The Talbot Boys Conversation: Richard Potter and NAACP’s Easton Chapter

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If one were looking for examples of a new generation taking on leadership roles in Talbot County, Richard Potter would be a good place to start. The current president of the NAACP’s Easton Chapter was born in 1982. And while his day job is one of being an educator with the Dorchester County School District, his new work, representing an organization formed in 1909 “to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination,” has taken on new meaning as County leaders begin to discuss the future of the Talbot Boys statue now sitting on the County Courthouse lawn.

In his interview with the Spy, Richard talks about the Talbot Boys, what the memorial means in the local African-American community as it stands now, and the generational change of perspective taking place that seriously questions how history is told in public spaces.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length.

 

 

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Letters to Editor

  1. Tilghman McCabe Jr. says:

    Mr. Potter makes the point that this statue does not “tell the whole story” about the Civil War and does not represent all of the people from Talbot County who fought in it. And I would agree with that. But, perhaps it was not meant to at the time it was erected in 1916. It is a figure of a Confederate soldier with a list of residents who served with the Confederacy. And for whatever reasons, it was apparently approved by the citizens in 1916. But Mr. Potter states that because it resides on the Court House lawn,it should be removed because without a Union memorial, this Confederate statue now represents bias in justice. Perhaps I am of too simple a mind. But it would seem to me that if you’d like to erect a similar Union statue with the names of Talbot residents who served in the Union forces, then perhaps that should be the focus. It could be placed right next the The Talbot Boys. Why does the present monument need to come down? In addition, I would ask Mr. Potter that if there were a Union monument erected in 1916 in place of this Confederate monument, would we be having this conversation? Somehow, I doubt it.

    One final word. I was pleased to see the Confederate battle flag removed from the South Carolina state house grounds. It was long overdue. Regardless of one’s feelings about history, the South and the Civil War, it had become a divisive symbol. And I can understand it’s hatred by many. That does not mean that we should hastily trample the history of this country for the sake of “correctness.” There are many honored men and women, black and white, who helped found this country that were involved in slavery and the slave trade. The historical record should stand on facts and not be re-written to suit one segment of our society. Let’s be careful about who and what should be torn down or moved and have it based on the collective will of our society.

  2. Tom Stevenson says:

    Mr. Potter makes some interesting points. Among them are that we need to stop using arcane references that are offensive to some, and get with the times. He also advocates that we should represent all people, not just one side or another. Mr. Potter does this as the leader of an association dedicated solely to the advancement of “colored people.” There is no more arcane symbol of our past than the phrase “colored”, which constitutes part of the name of that organization. And, of course, it is inherently biased towards not advancing all people, but only one segment of our population, which flies in the face of his call for equal representation for all.

    I understand the history of the NAACP and support the cause he represents – improving the lot of those who were historically discriminated against. However, to lead an organization that commits to only the advancement of one race at the exclusion of all others, and then call for the destruction of a historic statue because it only represents one side of history, seems disingenuous.

    A long time student of the Civil War, I am a member of the Civil War Trust, which raises funds to buy and preserve Civil War battlefields and save them from development. My Civil War Trust cap displays two flags on its logo: the Union and Confederate flags. My lapel pin shows those two flags crossed with one another. Those symbols represent ancestors who fought and died in the bloodiest war ever fought on our soil. I cannot walk through the hallowed ground of Gettysburg without thinking of the southern men slaughtered on the field during Pickett’s Charge, or of the northern men who so valiantly laid down their lives on Little Round Top under the command of Joshua Chamberlain. Both deserve recognition in the American history that our descendants will see and read.

    In one sentence, Mr. Potter calls for equal billing for both sides, but in the next, states that the historic 1916 monument be removed. Why not keep it, and build a Union monument along side it, as Mr. McCabe has suggested? The political correctness sickness calls for America to dig up graves of Confederate officers, melt down their statues, and dynamite Stone Mountain.

    The biggest tragedy in this issue is that organizations like NAACP have allowed the destruction of history to take the place of constructive measures to improve the lives of all children and adults living in poverty. The focus should be on early education, strengthening families, financial literacy, entrepreneurship education, youth mentoring, job skills training, and high school drop-out prevention. I support those causes, for anyone who could benefit from them, from hosting youth retreats for inner-city kids on the eastern shore, to providing life-skills training to incarcerated youth. I would submit that those efforts will make a difference; melting down statues and burning flags might make a few people feel better, but will do little to make a real difference in the lives that are most in need of our help.

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