Letter: Let monument go to museum

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 26, 2020

I was proud to see the improvements to Salisbury when I returned for the Salisbury High School Class of 1974’s 45 reunion. The new theaters and the expansion of the historic train depot area made me proud.

Growing up in Salisbury, I never understood the significance of the Confederate statue in the median on Innes Street. I had been taught that these statues were historical monuments. But after listening to my African-American friends’ feelings about these monuments, I began to see them from a different perspective. I didn’t know that these statues had been erected decades after the civil war during a period of racial terrorism. To my black friends, these statues were a reminder of slavery and post-slavery oppression.

I currently live in Memphis, Tennessee, where we recently dealt with how Confederate monuments have affected our African-American community. We took the statues down and gave them to the Sons of the Confederacy. These monuments are no longer in a place of honor in our public parks.

During a visit to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, “the lynching museum” in Montgomery, Alabama, I was saddened to see this notation on one of the walls: “After a white woman was found dead, two young black boys named Harrison and James Gillespie were lynched in Salisbury, North Carolina in 1902.” This tragic history, of which I was unaware, really brought home to me the feelings of rage and sadness that people of color must experience daily when they drive past Confederate monuments.

The current statue was placed on Innes in 1909. Let it go to a museum of history and not be a public reminder of oppression and racism. I have friends who live in Salisbury who would feel better and more accepted by the community if that could happen.

Jeff Warren


Editor’s note: Warren is a city council member for District 9-3 in Memphis.