There are a few observations that I would like to make in response to the article “Abraham: Statue vote is ‘sad day’” (June 24):
To assume that removing the Confederate statue on the Leflore County Courthouse lawn will hurt efforts to unite the community is a fallacy. According to Wiley N. Nash, a Mississippian and Civil War veteran who gave the keynote address at the unveiling of the Confederate statue in Lexington, these monuments “tell in silent but potent language, that the white people of the South shall rule and govern the Southern states forever.” He was also quoted as declaring during the unveiling of the Confederate statue, “Keep the white people of the South united — a thing so necessary, to protect, preserve, and transmit our true Southern social system, our cherished Southern civilization.” These comments were reported in an opinion editorial written by Eric Etheridge and published in the Jackson Clarion Ledger Aug. 12, 2018. It should be noted that Nash was a legislator and served as the state’s attorney general.
The truth is that the Confederate monument in Leflore County has not only divided the community for years since 1913, it was used as a tool to intimidate Black people in every era since it’s erection.
Should the Confederate monument be removed from the Leflore County Courthouse lawn?
When we look at the statue and the people modeled on it, do you think they would have agreed when the first Black man and woman walked up the courthouse steps to register to vote? Would they have commended Emmett Till’s uncle for pointing out the men who came and pulled his nephew from his home and killed him? Do you believe that the people on the statue would have agreed with and supported Cleveland Jordan, who founded a voter registration league in the 1950s? Would they have agreed with and supported the first Black and non-white elected officials in this county and city? Do you think that when Kwame Ture came down and spoke about and coined the term “Black Power” at Broad Street Park, they would have attended? Do you think the people on the statue would have approved the Board of Supervisors that we currently have?
In a film documentary titled, “The Streets of Greenwood,” recorded during the civil rights movement, the producer chronicles the events that took place when Black people were trying to gain the right to vote. On that very same Leflore County Courthouse lawn, police officers and dogs were sent to deter people from peacefully protesting about not only “civil” rights but rights all humans should have.
Leflore County Supervisor Anjuan Brown agreed with Sam Abraham that the county has “bigger” issues that they could be worried about, such as “our” kids killing each other, crime and poverty. This was noted in his comments during the presentation my father and I made to the Board of Supervisors to remove the statue. That makes me wonder why — in the weeks and years prior to discussing removing the statue — our children’s lives, crime and poverty weren’t more of a pressing issue. These issues have been prevalent and important in Leflore County long before Monday, June 22, 2020.
These issues have long been important to the Black community, so much so that there was a roundtable discussion that included close to 60 men trying to figure out ways to help improve our community on June 19 at the pavilion in the middle of Greenwood. Neither Sam Abraham nor Anjuan Brown was present.
There are community activists who have championed plans and programs that could help alleviate the gun violence and crime in our community for years. Poverty has always been an issue in our community. If we ride through Greenwood, we see more low-income-based housing, which outnumbers the number of jobs coming into the city. It’s a case of simple mathematics: When there is more low-income housing than there are job opportunities, what is the real priority?
When the committee, which Anjuan Brown is a part of, was tasked to create a monument that told the “other” side of history, they proposed creating a memorial that (according to one of the committee members) could cost close to $1 million. My suggestion? What better way to invest in our community than to use that $1 million in the creation of a state-of-the-art countywide resource/community/recreational center?
There is nothing “equalized” in creating a memorial to commemorate parts of a history that were needed to right the thoughts and beliefs that were used to oppress, intimidate, and kill Black people. The Confederate statue that currently, for the time being, sits on the courthouse lawn represents the latter.