Susan Mann rushed into the room just as the public comment period opened during the Catawba County commissioners’ meeting on Monday and raised her hand to speak.
She rustled through a paper bag and pulled out a stack of papers. Mann then stepped up to the podium and recited a three-page poem she had written.
The poem painted a picture of the Civil War and the Confederate monuments erected decades later. Mann’s poem argued that the statues should be removed. She is one of a group of residents asking the board of commissioners to remove the 1907 Confederate monument at the historic courthouse in downtown Newton.
Mann said in her public comment that white supremacy didn’t disappear after the Civil War. Decades after the war ended, Confederate statues were constructed on places of power, like courthouses, to intimidate Black people. Those monuments remain today, Mann said.
“Statues stand all over the South, stone and metal and concrete reminders of a war that was fought and lost, of a Confederacy that lived a mere four years, but which still casts a shadow on our nation,” Mann said
Mann quoted Gen. Robert E. Lee, who said, “I think it wiser not to keep open the sores of war.”
Mann said now is the time for the statues to be removed.
“And now, as Black and white come together and attempt to heal our country from the racial divides that have hurt us for so long, from the stories of a war long over but never laid to rest, the statues must come down,” Mann said. “Those statues serve one purpose: to divide Black from white, and Black from power. And so we should hold these statues no more in the public square. There are cemeteries aplenty to remember your dead.”