Lumberton, North Carolina — More than 100 Confederate monuments are still scattered across North Carolina. Some people have called to have them removed, but others are convinced they should stay.
A specific Confederate statue at the Robeson County Courthouse has become the focus of debate, with the NAACP leader calling on commissioners to remove the statue, saying it idolizes a dark history.
The statue is hard to miss as you walk past the courthouse. It stands above the front steps, the words “Our Confederate Dead” carved in stone. A Confederate soldier perches on the obelisk, which resembles a Confederate flag.
The Rev. Tyrone Watson, president of the Robeson County NAACP, says he doesn’t belong here.
“What that suggests to me, and what it suggests to many other county citizens, is that Robeson County agrees with what the Confederacy stood for,” he said.
The History of the Confederate Monument
The monument was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1907, more than 40 years after the end of the war.
Clippings from the May 13 issue of the local newspaper, called The Robesonian, describe “cars, buggies, wagons, carts, automobiles, wheels and all types of vehicles” stopping for the ceremony.
Confederate veterans attended the ceremony, according to the author, describing “some who suffered lifelong injuries” and others who were “bend with age” after the Civil War in the 1860s. article, which celebrated the monument, wrote that it was a “warm handshake to those who still linger.”
Governor Glenn spoke at the ceremony, praising the men who fought for the South during the Civil War. A copy of the clipping can be found here.
It had to be cleaned up in 2017 after vandals targeted it.
A request for relocation, not destruction
Some locals believe the monument in a public space like a courthouse, where people of all races and walks of life go to seek justice and equality, gives the impression that the local government supports the Confederacy.
At a meeting of county commissioners on Monday, Watson and two other speakers urged council to move the statue.
“We’re not asking them to tear down the statue, because it’s part of history. It’s part of the heritage of the people of Robeson County,” Watson said.
However, not all commissioners agree on what to do with the statue. At least two have expressed their opposition, saying they are unsure whether the commissioners have the legal authority to remove the monument.
Commissioner Tom Taylor said “Nobody minds it” and that he doesn’t think the statue has anything to do with race.
Another commissioner, David Edge, said: “I don’t think it stands for what they think it stands for.” He opposes its deletion.
Watson says he wanted to wait until tensions subsided after the death of George Floyd, when efforts to remove Confederate symbols reached a fever pitch. He thinks a monument outside a public courthouse should be a statue in which everyone can find honor.
“If there is going to be a monument there, it should be something that everyone can be proud of, that everyone can look up to and honor,” he said.
Robeson County commissioners took no action on the matter last night.
The NAACP and the Council on American-Islamic Relations are urging commissioners to vote on removing the monument.