For the second meeting in a row, the Catawba County Board of Commissioners were asked to remove the Confederate monument in front of the historic courthouse in downtown Newton.
Sam Hunt, president of the Hickory NAACP and member of the Catawba County Truth and Reconciliation Committee, stood before the board Monday night and made the request. Hunt was following in the footsteps of Jerry McCombs, president of the Catawba County NAACP and a founder of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, who first asked the board to move the statue in August.
Hunt, like McCombs, said he wanted to keep the peace and help everyone in the county get along, but said the statue is a reminder of racism and those who fought for slavery.
“We believe that society must continue to examine history and the consequences of systemic racism on marginalized communities,” Hunt said during the public comment period of the meeting. “And we ask that the Confederate monument on the property of the historic Newton courthouse be moved.”
McCombs, Hunt and other activists started the Truth and Reconciliation Committee after civil unrest in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota in late May. The organization aims to help the community learn about the history of slavery and racism and fight systemic racism in the county. Their first step is pushing for the monument on county property to be moved.
The monument was built in 1907, during the Jim Crow era, when laws were enacted after the Civil War to enforce racial segregation in the South, Hunt said at Monday’s meeting.
“Confederate monument building has often been a part of widespread campaigns to promote Jim Crow laws of the South,” Hunt said. “Memorials to the Confederacy during this period were … to intimidate African Americans politically and isolate them from the mainstream of public life.”
Hunt, like McCombs before, recalled his own encounters with racism and the violence it brings. The monument on public ground is a reminder of that.
“These symbols of white supremacy are still being evoked for similar purposes as before,” Hunt said.
The board of commissioners did not immediately respond to Hunt at Monday’s meeting. Chairman Randy Isenhower said earlier this year that it was unlikely the monument would move.
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