Story at a glance
- Lafayette County in Mississippi voted to keep a Confederate monument standing.
- Public officials say they have spoken to their Black constituents regarding the decision.
Lafayette County, a Mississippi county situated close to the state’s Tennessee border, has bucked the national call to remove Confederate monuments and decided to keep its monument to Confederate soldiers.
In a vote late Monday, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to keep the statue erect in the middle of Oxford Square rather than relocate it to another area on public land, according to the Daily Journal.
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The Journal notes that the board, whose final vote to keep the statue was 5-0, is made up of all white men. Some board members reportedly said that they did not think removing the monument would alleviate racial tension or help unity within the county.
District 4 Supervisor Chad McLarty said that he has had conversations with Black American constituents and friends, who reportedly never told him that “the monument was an issue to them.”
“I myself have been a victim of racism due to the color of my skin,” McLarty told the Journal. “I’ve also been a victim of police brutality. What I do know is there are a lot of bad people in this world, and no matter how many statues, flags or pancake boxes you take down, they will still exist.”
District 3 Supervisor David Rikard said that he also consulted Black leaders and constituents before voting.
“I think there’s a lot of outside pressure, but I’m optimistic in Lafayette County and the city of Oxford,” Rikard said.
Other community members, including former University of Mississippi administrator and activist Don Cole, supported relocating the monument. Speaking with the Journal, Cole said that the vote to keep the statue was a mistake and that “history will prove them to be on the wrong side and this particular battle will continue.”
As a student in 1970, Cole was one of eight Black students at the University of Mississippi who was expelled and arrested after protesting the university’s treatment of Black students on campus. He eventually returned to the school to teach.
“I suspect that much of the reason for their decision to keep it might very well be for political reasons and for maintaining their position,” Cole explained to reporters.
Cities and towns across the country are in the process of responding to calls to remove statues with links to the U.S.'s history of racism, ranging from statues of Christopher Columbus in San Francisco to Confederate monuments in Richmond, Va.
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