The public hearing on the future of the Confederate Monument on the Historic Courthouse Green in Eastville drew a wide array of opinions Tuesday evening.
Most of the speakers supported Dr. Art Carter’s idea of adding to the Historic Courthouse Green, rather than taking away or tearing down. Carter proposes adding a monument to a Union Solider who is carved in “an African-American likeness.”
Dr. Art Carter spoke at the meeting:
“What a wonderful opportunity, to leave that statue there, and curate what it meant. What a wonderful teaching opportunity to contextualize the monument, and teach our descendants what it was about. So, please, I respectfully ask, please put what the Honorable Dr. Charles Bell, former supervisor and educator, said in this room… 25 years ago… we need a statue out on the Courthouse Green, of a Union solider, to tell all of our history.”
Five other individuals spoke in favor of Carter’s idea, and asked if the statue is to be removed, that the figurine adoring the top and the various other artifacts be saved for a museum exhibit. A committee would research and explore various options for ways to add to the green, to tell a fuller story of Northampton’s history, and provide a non-binding recommendation to the Supervisors for them to consider before voting on how to move forward.
Not everyone agreed with the idea. Two individuals spoke on the need to remove the monument. One was Kim Butler:
“Our great governor Northam is in favor of taking down Confederate statues. We claim him as our own son of the Eastern Shore. So I find it bizarre that we aren’t going along with what he thinks. The other thing I want to say is that we won a lot of awards, talking about the Eastern Shore in magazines. People, tourists come here because of how this peninsula is. Is what we want them to see in the seat of government, a Confederate statue? That speaks volumes.”
Following the speakers, several letters were read into the record which, for the most part, called for the monuments removal.
Supervisor Betsy Mapp of Exmore showed pictures of a bronze Turner Sculpture of a dove which she wanted placed in front of the actual courthouse in memory of the county’s indentured servants and enslaved persons.
Supervisor Dixon Leatherbury urged citizens to not apply 21st century standards to individuals who lived in the 19th century.
Board Chairman Oliver Bennett finished this section of the meeting giving a speech about the racism his friends, family and he himself had experienced growing up. He concluded saying he wouldn’t compromise on the monument given these experiences. In concluding the public hearing, Bennett announced the discussion would continue at the Board’s November meeting.