I join the thousands of Talbot County citizens imploring you to remove the Confederate statue from the public land of the County Courthouse without delay.
Let us remember what has happened on this public site, which is supposedly dedicated to adjudicating justice but in reality reflects “an unbroken tradition of white racial ownership of critical public spaces”:*
Human beings were bought and sold to the highest bidder at auction here;
*Frederick Douglass was jailed for a week and daily taunted by white slave traders here with the prospect of being sold to Georgia or Florida – simply for the crime of attempting to escape slavery;
*“The largest incident of mob violence in Talbot County history took place here – the narrowly averted near lynching of Isaiah Fountain on Easter Monday 1919, six years after the erection of the Confederate statue.
On that evening, nearly 2,000 whites assembled outside the courthouse on the first day of his trial with ropes and knives intent on his lynching. Eventually Mr. Fountain was wrongfully convicted and hung on a gallows in the Talbot County jail on July 23, 1920.*
This is the history that must be acknowledged and remembered. This is the history of racial violence and trauma and fear that still reverberates in the generations of African Americans in Talbot County.
I ask each of the Talbot County Council members: Why not remove the Confederate statue to a location on private property? Because the Talbot Boys are veterans? They certainly weren’t fighting for freedom but for denying it to enslaved African Americans. Councilmembers, whose feelings do you hesitate to hurt? Whose political support do you fear losing?
Do you want to be remembered for being the County Council that demonstrates it is anti-racist by its actions? Or would you rather be remembered as the County Council that maintains the racist status quo and is one of the last hold-outs in the United States to remove its monument to the Confederacy?
Grow a spine, do the right thing, lead the way and remove the Confederate statue from the Courthouse lawn.
*from Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the Twenty-First Century: On the Courthouse Lawn, by Sherrilyn A. Ifill.