The Leflore County Board of Supervisors voted Monday night to remove the Confederate monument outside the county’s courthouse.
The vote to remove the statue was 4-0. District 1 Supervisor Sam Abraham was not present.
Supporters of monuments to the Confederacy say they represent Southern heritage; opponents say the structures are reminders of the pain of slavery. Monuments in some other Southern cities have been removed from their longtime locations recently.
Troy Brown Sr. and his son, Troy Brown Jr., who have called for the removal of the courthouse statue, delivered speeches to the board, receiving applause from some of those watching the meeting. Both are Black, as are the four supervisors who voted for the removal.
“Our foreparents made it possible in all that pain and suffering, and we drive through the Delta, and we see how far that cotton goes,” Brown Sr. said with tears in his eyes. “And our parents were out there! ... Please let us not shame their memory any longer!”
Brown Sr. suggested moving the monument to the Museum of the Mississippi Delta.
Board President Robert Collins spoke about his experiences growing up in the county, recalling when Chicago youth Emmett Till was abducted and killed for whistling at a white woman at Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market in Money in 1955.
“Younger people coming up now do not understand the history,” Collins said. “I was 6 years old when Emmett Till got killed. I remember that. I remember what I was wearing. … We slept under the bed because we were scared. So I understand it. The statue doesn’t bother me, but it bothers a lot of folks, and if it bothers my people, then I’m willing to do whatever it takes to do it.”
Reginald Moore, the board’s vice president, said the monument “serves as a symbol of intimidation, of fear, of treason, domestic terrorism, slavery and murder — and no one should have to come to work where a symbol of fear and intimidation is in place.”
Discussion of the statue’s removal also brought up a broader topic of racism in the county as a whole.
“I’m not downplaying anything, but that statue hasn’t killed any of my Black kids,” Anjuan Brown of District 3 said. “We need to be focused. Want to get rid of the statue? By God, get rid of it. I’m fine with that. But we need to focus on what we need to be focusing on. We’re killing each other every day.”
Troy Brown Jr. agreed and said that “our injustices are running parallel to each other.”
“There’s a lot of battles in this war, but removing that statue is a battle we can win,” he said.
After the board approved the motion, Troy Brown Sr. took to his knees to pray, asking God to bless everyone in the room and all those who voted yes.
Before moving to the next line item, Collins said, “I hope we did the right thing.”
According to Board Attorney Joyce Chiles, the next step is to contact the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to review the board’s intention of having the statue removed. It is the department’s job to review the monument’s historical value.
Representatives of the Leflore County Monument Committee also attended to update the board on a proposed large-scale walkway monument to reflect Southern Black history.
That group will have a meeting in the courthouse on Thursday at 4 p.m. to discuss further details.
• Contact Adam Bakst at 581-7233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @AdamBakst_GWCW