My Turn, Carol Pomeroy: Statue shouldn’t honor ancestors in middle of town

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 21, 2020

By Carol Pomeroy

I, as a white woman, stand in solidarity with the Black community. A white policeman was allowed to murder a Black man in broad daylight with many witnesses recording the event on their cell phones. Derek Chauvin did this because he thought there would be no consequences and he would not be held accountable.

With a knee on his neck compressing his ability to breathe, George Floyd pleaded for his life. His pleas of “I can’t breathe” were met with indifference from Chauvin and the three other officers involved in his murder. His life was not valued. His life as a beloved child of God was not valued because of the color of his skin. He pleaded for his life and with his last breaths cried out for his mother who had already passed. Did he cry out for the person who had loved him unconditionally?  Did he sense her presence around him or was she reaching out to him through time to bring him to his forever home?

It took ongoing protests in hundreds of cities and towns before Chauvin was finally arrested for the murder, and it took even longer for the three other officers to be arrested. This only happened because thousands of people in this country and some foreign countries said enough is enough. You cannot continue to murder our Black men and women and other people of color because of the hatred in your souls. For approximately 400 years, people of color have been devalued, oppressed and murdered. When the Ku Klux Klan and other racist white supremacists could no longer get away with hanging Black men, those policemen who were racists continued to do it for them. The murders of people of color by white policemen who are racists is no different than hanging. They just use guns, choke holds or knees on the neck instead of a rope.

The protests that are taking place are not just to stop the murders and demand the equal application of the law and reforms in the judicial system but to change the systemic racism that has been part of our culture in so many areas, including education, health care, housing, employment and Confederate statues that symbolize white supremacy, racism and oppression. Do we want to be a city that puts more value on a statue than we do on a human life?

For the people who claim that the statue “Fame” is only about honoring their ancestors who fought gallantly and died in the Civil War, I implore you to learn your history from the brutality of slavery, Jim Crow laws, the reality of segregation, voter suppression and so many other issues that still face Black and brown people today. “Fame” is a confederate statue that glorifies the Confederate States of American that stood for two basic principles as defined in its own constitution of 1861. It stood for the disunion of the United States and it stood for an official establishment of slavery as a state sanctioned institution. Article 1, Sec. 9.4 reads, “No bill or attainer, post facto law or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.” Is this really what people want to continue to honor? “Fame” presents a message that divides the people of Salisbury and will continue to divide the city until it is actually moved to its new location.

For those who objected to moving “Fame” because they want to honor their ancestors, I would point out that people do not put a grave stone or a statue in their front yard to honor their ancestors. They go to the cemetery, where their ancestors are buried or to a church to pray or remember them in their hearts.

They would not stand in the center of town. “Fame” does not belong in the center of our city, not only for the safety issues it presents but because it does not represent all the people in Salisbury. A statue that does not represent all the people certainly does not belong in the center of the city. It is a constant reminder of its real message that white people are superior to people of color, that white people’s voices are the only voices that deserve to be heard and that people of color will continue to be oppressed and marginalized  This statue and this message can no longer be allowed to dominate the voice of Salisbury. Present a new message: Black Lives Matter.

I applaud the decision of the City Council to relocate “Fame” to a more appropriate location, and I sincerely appreciate the efforts of all the many people and organizations who were involved in making this happen.

Carol Pomeroy lives in Salisbury.