Let there be no mistake. Here in Talbot County, moving the Confederate monument from a place of honor on our Courthouse lawn to some other location takes precedence, as a civic issue, over every other matter facing this County Council. It takes precedence over every other matter facing us as citizens of Talbot County.
Because the Confederate monument is an artifact of Jim Crow injustice and white supremacy, demanding that it remain right where it’s been for the last 105 years is to say Talbot County remains locked in that world view. Even the most inattentive of us knows that is not true, yet three on our County Council so far just don’t see how it matters. But moving the thing from that singular place of honor is long overdue, and doing so does not somehow destroy Talbot’s history. That dichotomy is false and disingenuous.
In recent weeks this column has focused on the duplicity underlying the Council’s green-lighting the Trappe East project prematurely (Resolution 281), apparently not caring that the developer got the go-ahead by misrepresenting the sewage system he actually proposes to build. The integrity of our land use review process is a very important issue—but not as important as moving the Confederate monument. And last week I reported on the Council’s refusal to follow its own Rules of Procedure to hear a petition calling for rescission of Resolution 281; that too is a real problem—but nothing like the moral failure in refusing to move the Jim Crow monument.
And last month you’ll recall the report on the Council’s surprise proposal to run a $200,000 sewer line along the St. Michaels road, allegedly because the new materials yard needs a single toilet connection. You bet that is a big problem—but it’s not on the same scale as the Council’s failure to do the right thing with the bronze and stone relic of an unjust era in the County’s past.
This Council has shortcomings and continues to make bad decisions in certain areas, but none compare to its inaction caused by the moral blindness of the three members who could chose to do the right thing, but won’t.
Ironically, I write this opinion piece one year to the day from that sunny Saturday when so many Talbot Countians found themselves moved to action by another stark injustice, one more acutely horrible and brutal and unwatchable. We stood along Marlboro Road in peace– a simple act indeed, standing witness.
This year, on June 19th, beginning on Marlboro Road at 11 a.m. is another peaceable opportunity to act, to call for social justice right here in Talbot County. Join the march to the Courthouse to implore this County Council to move Talbot’s Confederate monument. My wife and I will be there and hope to see you there too.
Moving the monument won’t destroy Talbot’s history. It will add another, better, chapter to the ongoing story.
Dan Watson is the former chair of Bipartisan Coalition For New Council Leadership and has lived in Talbot County for the last twenty-five years.