The “Talbot Boys” monument should be removed from the county courthouse grounds, Talbot County Councilman Pete Lesher said Tuesday night.
Lesher is the first county councilman to call for the removal of the monument to the county’s Confederate soldiers (including some who moved to Talbot after the war) since a renewed effort began after the death of George Floyd.
Council President Corey Pack later asked council members to adopt a resolution to prohibit all statues depicting persons, signs of symbols of military actions on the courthouse grounds. He said the resolution would not prohibit monuments listing the names of Talbot County veterans of war.
The Talbot Boys monument has a statue of a young color bearer holding the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia atop a base listing the names of the Confederate soldiers. If Pack’s resolution was approved and applied to existing monuments, the statue would be removed but the base would remain.
The council discussion comes as the nation grapples with police brutality against people of color and amid demonstrations calling for racial justice and equality after the death of George Floyd while pinned down by Minneapolis police officers.
A peaceful protest last Saturday in downtown Easton attended by hundreds included calls for the monument’s removal.
During a public call-in comment period at its Tuesday night meeting, the Talbot County Council heard from several county residents urging them to remove the statue.
During the public comment period, Emily Thompson said she had emailed the council members about the statue’s removal.
“There will be a future Talbot County Council that will take this down,” she said Tuesday night. “You have an opportunity now to take action and listen to black voices. Are you going to wait and let your successors do the work you should have done years ago?
“All across the state and across the United States, we have seen true leaders,” Thompson said. “Show you don’t sympathize with rebels against the United States and white supremacists.”
“This isn’t history,” Benjamin Rubenstein of Trappe said in a call. “This is an opportunity for the county to act and take a stand. This is an opportunity for Talbot County to be a part of the solution.”
“I’m extremely outraged and disappointed” that a “symbol of slavery, white supremacy and racism” remains standing in Easton and Talbot County, Ari Rubenstein said.
“What side of history are you going to be on?” he asked. “We’re going to eradicate symbols of oppression. You need to be on the right side of history.”
Pack, who voted against a request to remove the monument in 2015 and 2016, said he had shared a written statement with his fellow council members before the meeting. Each council member spoke about the issue — some more directly than others — during council comments.
Pack, in his statement, said he was going to ask the county council to put a question on the November ballot asking Talbot voters whether the statue should be removed.
But to do so would have required action by the Maryland General Assembly, which completed its 2020 legislative session in a shortened session in March.
Pack, instead, offered his proposed resolution and also called for:
• a report outlining the county’s diversity training over the past two years and additional steps the county could take in the future;
• the drafting of a diversity statement to be included in the county employee handbook;
• putting a question on the ballot to amend the county’s charter to limit council members to two consecutive terms (a member could run for election again after sitting out a term);
• the council to send a letter to federal lawmakers supporting the Justice in Policing Act of 2020.
Current council members Laura Price and Chuck Callahan had voted with Pack against the monument’s removal in 2015 and 2016, after the NAACP officially requested the monument be removed following the murder of nine black parishioners at a Charlotte, N.C., church by a white supremacist.
The issue arose again in 2017 after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., during which a counter-protester was killed and numerous others injured by a white supremacist who drove into a crowd.
Letters to Editor
Margot Miller says
Yes, remove it from the courthouse. Put it in one of the cemeteries.
Carol Voyles says
It is clearly time to remove this Confederate flag from our courthouse grounds.
Monuments celebrating the Confederacy were once seen as promoting unity. They are no longer serving this purpose.
Pamela R Getson says
Yes. Ridiculous. Remove it promptly and without fanfare. (I don’t really understand why we should leave the confederate soldier names either–at this point they should be viewed as name-shamed). These and similar monuments were immediately erected across the South in the late 1800’s perhaps to ‘promote unity’, albeit among Whites with the discredited and illegal continuance of forms of slavery, Black suppression and Jim Crow laws, meanwhile continuing to frighten Blacks as reminders. They lent a form of credibility to Whites still striving for what they fought for… and lost. Why exactly would we need any such present day reminders? In front of a courthouse?! Why indeed continuing 57 years after even formalized desegregation of 1963? If you think you have an answer to keeping these “monuments” displayed for public adulation, perhaps you are also among others who have helped cause and continue the deeply systemic racism which has lead to so many nearly intractable problems we now all face as a nation. Thank you, Pete.
Alan Boisvert says
Considering the climate of this issue, the council has no choice, tear the damn thing(and it’s base) down.
Having debate on this issue is non-nonsensical and a waste of time.
Elizabeth Freedlander says
I do not think that Mr. Pack’s suggestion to leave the base of the statue serves the purpose of no longer honoring the confederate cause. The names of those who served this cause will remain. I support removing the statue in its entirety.
Keith Watts says
In light of this article, I wanted to share my letter to the Talbot County Council, sent last week following the Council’s meeting.
* * *
“Honorable Council Persons:
Kentucky, it seems has summoned the gumption and political will to remove Jefferson Davis from the rotunda in its State Capitol building.
The question presented is: Will Talbot County lead Maryland? Does The Talbot County Council have the will and wherewithal to relocate the “Talbot Boys” and let them rest in the Historical Society of Easton?
The following is from Robert F. Kennedy, when he shared the horrific news of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.
“My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: ‘In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.’
What we need in the United States is not division;
what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.
So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love–a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.
Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”
Those words ring just as true now as they did then. I would hazard to say even more so.
I urge you. Each of you. Individually and collectively. Let us not wait for ballot measures. Let us not wait for more meaningless debates. Let us not wait for more salt rubbed in ancient and deep wounds.
Let us simply no longer be afraid. Show Talbot County, show the State of Maryland — show the world — that we “want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.”
Let us dedicate ourselves to that premise, and say a prayer for Talbot County — and for our people.
All of our people.
To that end, I will personally pay the relocation costs of the “Talbot Boys” if it is relocated in the next 72 hours.
The hour is upon you. Time is of the essence.
The tides of history are rising. The “Talbot Boys” will be swept away. It is no longer a question of “if” — but when.
Yes it is hard. Of course it’s hard. Otherwise it would’ve been done years ago.
But — this is the time. This is the place. This is the moment.
Do the right thing. Do the honorable thing. Do the thing generations have waited for.
I know in your heart of hearts each of you can do this. And when you look in the mirror every morning from this moment on — from this moment on — you will see your reflection — a visage of quiet courage and peace — or remorse and regret for that which could have been.
As RFK said: “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”
Please feel free to call me with any questions you may have.
Keith A. Watts”
Keith Watts says
Here is my letter sent to the Talbot County Council today.
“Honorable Council Persons,
Listen. Listen to these words.
And — not just listen with your ears or read with your eyes — but listen with your heart . . . .
And feel . . . .
It is time. Time for “The Talbot Boys” to travel a different road. The road to The Historical Society of Easton . . . . Ironically, only a stone’s throw from where the hideous Talbot Slave Market stood . . . .
All of The “Talbot Boys” Monument must make that final journey. Not just the top. Not just the bottom base. All. Of. It.
Let the fallen “Boys” be solemnly honored there. Away from our public square. And whatever respect they are due, can certainly be given there.
Then, let us find comfort and solace in knowing that we the living — however painful and belated— finally made a few steps on our own journey forward — freed finally from a sad, shameful, shackle of history . . . .
Do the right thing on June 23rd.
Suzanne Todd says
Thank you, Mr. Watts.
Gren Whitman says
The Confederate Stars and Bars flag is as odious as the Nazis’ swastika banner.
Included as part of the “Talbot Boys” statue, the CSA flag symbolizes a grim heritage of human slavery and degradation, similar to conditions in Nazi Germany.
No statues honor the Nazi regime or Adolf Hitler in Germany today.
Talbot Boy does not balance that nearby statue honoring Fredrick Douglass. There is no moral equivalent between the two. Douglass stood for freedom and dignity, and first escaped from and then fiercely opposed slavery, the same slavery system the Talbot Boys rushed to defend.
The shameful statue in front of the Talbot County courthouse will be removed sooner or later. Why not sooner?
Richard Marks says
On Friday, I was elated to learn the Talbot County Council planned to vote on removal of The Talbot Boys statue from the Courthouse lawn. That feeling turned to disappointment the next day after reading that the President of the Council planned to introduce a resolution that, if passed, would only require the top portion be removed. That is not a solution to the problem of a confederate monument on property dedicated to administering justice. If expressed medically the part removed would be considered a phantom limb since the amputee would continue to feel the presence. What better analogy could be presented? All of us would forever see the full statue and what it represents. If the resolution remains as presented now, I encourage all county council members to vote no and to have a new resolution presented to remove the entire statue. If the intent is to truly allow monuments that name local persons who died in the Civil War, then build a monument with the names of all the persons from both sides who perished.
Rob Joseph says
Here’s an idea, put it on November’s ballot and let the voters of Talbot County decide.