Letter: Explanations are made simpler for children
In reply to the letter to the editor published Thursday titled “Why not find a place for ‘Fame’ in the park,” Mrs. Davison, with your experience as a teacher, you must know that the explanations given to a child rely on concepts and language a child can understand.
Later in adulthood, explanations include the contradictions and hard edges of objective reality. If you reflect, I think you will see that the angel is not the statue; the angel is in your heart.
For one thing, the sculptor of “Fame” did not intend to represent an angel. He portrayed the more complex symbol of the Greek goddess, Pheme, who metes out both rewards and punishments to her followers.
For another, the statue does not honor all soldiers. The inscription on the statue’s base dedicates it only to Rowan’s Confederate soldiers.
Finally, the effort and expense taken to erect the statue were raised while white supremacy was a driving force in local and state politics.
Although “Fame” was a point of pride for many white residents of Salisbury at the time, it clearly communicated a threat to people of color. It symbolized the power that in the a few years prior to its installation fueled several lynchings in Salisbury and the adoption of laws enforcing segregation. “Fame” reminded Black residents of these events, and it reminded White residents of their power to perpetrate them without social or legal sanction.
Your mother needn’t have troubled a child’s mind with these difficult facts — if indeed she knew them herself. She told you what she thought would satisfy your young curiosity. As an adult, you can now see that the object that brings back your childhood reverie triggers starkly different memories for many people. “Fame” should not be prominently displayed in public spaces shared by the great many of us who grasp its historic context.
The heart and the mind can diverge on a complicated topic. Enjoy your memories, but remember there are those of us who view it differently. With respect for all citizens, “Fame” can stand in a quiet place, where those who remember it fondly can enjoy it without the surrounding rush of midtown traffic.
— Jeffrey Sharp
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