After hearing a historian speak Monday about the significance of the Confederate monument that has long graced the Leflore County Courthouse lawn, county supervisors still opted to move forward with the removal of the monument.
The supervisors voted at their June 22 meeting to remove the monument. The vote was 4-0, with only the four Black board members present. District 1 Supervisor Sam Abraham, who is white, was absent but later said he would have voted against removal.
Larry McCluney, an author and longtime history teacher, told the supervisors Monday that they had acted out of emotion without taking “the time and opportunity to gather the facts, information, cost and so forth that is needed.”
Some say that Confederate monuments are reminders of the pain of slavery. Among many points, however, McCluney said the statue stood as a headstone for all those families whose ancestors are lost and buried without proper graves. He also said Troy Brown Sr., an advocate for the removal who said during the June 22 meeting that the statue stood for oppression, was incorrect on his assertions because Mississippi was the first state to offer pensions for the Black soldiers who served in the Confederate military.
McCluney presented four questions to consider before the board moved forward — whether the land on which the monument sits belongs to the county, whether supervisors are within their legal rights to move the monument, who will pay for the relocation and whether they had sought a new site.
Abraham moved to rescind the June 22 vote and table the matter until board members could examine past meeting minutes for more information. The motion failed as no other board member seconded it.
Joyce Chiles, the board’s attorney, did not speak during the discussion but said after the meeting that she knew the answers to all of McCluney’s questions.
According to Chiles, the land does belong to the county. She said there was no indication that any land was given away for the purpose of erecting the statue, and therefore the board has the authority to relocate it.
Chiles also said that the county would pay for the removal of the statue if no other group steps forward.
District 2 Supervisor Reginald Moore, the board’s vice president, said he feels a proper location for the statue would be a museum or another place dedicated to preserving history. “We voted. Not on emotion, not because another group acted on this,” Moore said. “This is a public place, and for some, that memorial represents fear and intimidation. We voted to remove it, not to destroy it. We did our due diligence.”
Charlot Ray, a longtime member of the board of the Museum of the Mississippi Delta, said that board voted in June not to accept the statue. Tim Stanciel, president of the museum board, said a statement on the decision and the reasoning behind it is forthcoming.
Moore said the Mississippi Department of Archives and History will help guide the supervisors on the cost and relocation of the statue.
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