This is an interesting story out of Franklin County, Virginia. Two years ago their Confederate monument, which was dedicated in 1910 was struck by an out-of-control driver and all but destroyed. Local leaders raised the necessary funds to build a new monument and plan to dedicate it in August only this time around there is also a push to include a marker that acknowledges the Civil War experiences of African Americans. Just what that experience involved seems to be a matter of some debate. First, it is difficult to imagine that an additional marker would be on the table had the original statue not been destroyed. I suspect that a re-dedication on public land at a time when these symbols have come under increased scrutiny is part of what is at issue here.
The community group responsible for this new marker includes Francis Amos, a doctor; Franklin County Circuit Court Judge William Alexander; members of the Jubal Early Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy; and several other black historians, educators and local leaders. The marker/pillar would include the following:
In commemoration of the many contributions, service and sacrifices on the home front and on the battlefront by People of Color, enslaved and free, from Franklin County during the War Between the States. (1861-1865).
You couldn’t ask for a vaguer inscription. In contrast to most Confederate soldier monuments, which clearly state why they fought, died, and sacrificed this marker commits to nothing and yet ensures that any narrative will be framed around a reference to the war that is commonly used by the UDC and other heritage organizations to distance slavery and emancipation from our collective memory of the war. Florella Johnson, who is the president of the local chapter of the NAACP expressed concern that the additional marker was not enough, though the article does not say why.
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