I have lived and worked and paid taxes in Talbot County since 1981. My wife and I raised our two children here who both graduated from St. Michaels High School. I am a veteran of the Vietnam War and I regularly attend church in Easton.
I write to you today because I want you to know how upset I am with your latest vote to deny the removal of the Confederate monument that is located on public land, specifically on the front lawn of the county courthouse where you meet twice a month. It is both shameful and inexcusable that Mr. Divilio, Mr. Callahan, and Ms. Price cannot yet understand that this is an issue of fairness, equality, and justice, not just for the Black community of Talbot County, but for all of us.
Let me be clear. Unlike some of you who wish this long-time racial problem will go away if we just give it enough time, that the Black Lives Movement that has been embraced by much of the country is just a fad, and that many of the citizens of Talbot County protesting for the removal of the Confederate monument will get tired and go away, I believe it’s NOT going to happen.
Some of you attended the dedication of the Frederick Douglass park last week. Those of you who voted for keeping the Confederate monument in place must have felt uncomfortable when you were reminded by one of the speakers that, as far as improving racial issues in Talbot County, we still have a lot of work to do. Part of that work is removing the monument to a more appropriate place. For the rest of the country to know that we have the last Confederate monument on public grounds should not only be an embarrassment to you, it should be an embarrassment to the majority of us who live here and who choose not to believe the historical myth of “The Lost Cause”.
After the Civil War ended, Frederick Douglass feared that the history of the war would be changed so that white Southerners would be viewed in a more favorable light. Douglass spent the next twenty years speaking about this rewriting of history and his fear that the freeing of the slaves may not mean very much if the right to vote and other basic human rights were denied. According to his biographer, David W. Blight, “He was appalled at the national veneration of Robert E. Lee when he died in 1870, and disgusted at what he called the “bombastic laudation” and the “nauseating flatteries” of the “rebel chief”.”
Mr. Pack, as president of the council, I implore you to use all your leadership skills and legislative powers to persuade your fellow council members to end this “bombastic laudation” of a monument that should have been put to rest years ago. In my mind, it is the most important issue now confronting the Council, and I believe, it is not a legacy that any of you desire. Ask yourselves, what would Frederick Douglass do?