George Washington is my sixth great uncle. I am a direct descendant of two of his brothers — Samuel Washington and John Augustine Washington. John Augustine's great grandson, Richard Scott Blackburn Washington, married Samuel Washington's great granddaughter, Christian Maria Washington. Richard and Christian Washington are my great-great grandparents.
As we all know, the Washington family were slave owners. They were born into the system and they benefited from the system. The Washingtons were Southeners from Tidewater, Virginia, later moving to northwestern Virginia and what is now West Virginia. Many of the Washington men fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and many of them were killed during that war, including my great-great grandfather, John Augustine Washington.
Like many of the southern plantation owners, the Washington family was devastated by the war and lost most of their land and wealth. That being said, I feel no sympathy or loyalty for the southern rebellion or the symbol of that rebellion, the Confederate flag. To me it represents an evil system of slave ownership that never should have been permitted in the United States of America — a system that had to come to an end. The Confederate flag and the Confederate statues that were erected all over the south during the Jim Crow era are symbols of white supremacy that have no place on public property.
I was dismayed when attending the Old Soldier's Reunion in Newton recently to see several people proudly walking around waving the Confederate flag and handing out literature in the shadow of the Confederate monument on the (former) courthouse lawn. This was a clear sign of white supremacy and, consequently, there was not a person of color to be seen at this celebration of living veterans.
It is past time for the Confederate statue to be removed from public property in the Catawba County seat so all citizens of our county feel free from intimidation created by these monuments to the rebellion against the United States of America. Our citizens should move forward and strive for love, justice, and mercy for all.
Elizabeth Washington Keane
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