PITTSBORO — It started around 7:47 p.m. and concluded around two hours later.
In that time span, 42 people spoke at varying lengths and with varying arguments. But all were, more or less, around a single topic — the Confederate monument placed in downtown Pittsboro.
A significant portion of Monday’s Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting was spent in public input, where citizens were allowed to express their opinions in three minutes or less. The session followed four citizens, representing the group “Chatham For All,” which made a formal presentation presenting a legal argument for removing the monument.
Here are a sampling of the comments:
“This statue is not instructive, objective history. As commissioners, please ask yourself, would you erect this statue today? If no, it’s time to remove it to its rightful owner.”
“I do believe that the statue was erected to honor dead soldiers. It’s not honoring slavery. If it ever was, it’s not now and it hasn’t been for many, many years.”
“These monuments were a part of rewriting history. We have an opportunity here to set a good example for our children and act in accordance with the best principles embedded in our North Carolina and U.S. Constitutions.”
“There is nothing racist about it. It’s about a horrible war that should have never been, but it was. That’s not us. We have actually progressed. We do love our neighbor.”
“Let’s remove it and put it in a place dedicated to reconciliation, where it will do some good as a powerful symbol. Honest communication is how true reconciliation happens. Let’s not stop at removing the statue but keep going.”
“(The monument was) made for Confederate soldiers, black and white. I’ve never heard any local people complain about the statue in my lifetime. Are we to let political activists dictate policy for our county? I should think not.”
“It wasn’t put there to embrace heritage, it was put there to (enact) fear on African-Americans. It’s 2019 and it’s time to change.”
“If it was a Union monument, I’d be fighting for it. If we take this monument down, where does it end?”
“It was put up during the Jim Crow time, it did symbolize white supremacy. It’s a racist statue. It shouldn’t be on county property.”
“The statute that was causing so much controversy is not about slavery. It was constructed in the memory of dead Confederate soldiers who fought for a cause they believed in.”
“Take the statue down. Too many children for too many generations have had to pass that statue and face the symbols that it stands for.”
“You cannot imagine the proud blood that the citizens of this area have. You’re using this issue as a political pawn to go get the minority votes. That’s all this is for.”
“As I raise my family in this diverse and changing community, it has become clear to me that for my minority brothers and sisters, the Confederate statue stands as a symbol of the fight for slavery and segregation.”
“If you start getting rid of a few things, you’re going to have to keep on going. I don’t think it was a band of hoodlums that were trying to scare people.”
“All Southerns who claim to know the history of the South must admit that the south seceded to maintain its economy, and that slavery was part of that economy. The monument outside the courthouse no longer represents the values of the majority of Chatham County residents, if it ever did.”
“Chatham for All is a misleading name because it does not represent all and it never will. Their group will not be happy if our monument is removed. The statue is a low-hanging fruit. Nothing is safe, not even the 9-11 memorial on (Highway) 15-501.”
“It is our job, our job now, to say no more. I am ashamed of the things that my family did, and I want to be able to make right what they did.”
“Ya’ll in this very place had a thing to honor Chatham County farmers. What does that monument downtown say? He was a farmer before he was a soldier. You can’t respect one and disrespect the other.”
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