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Monument issue requires sensitivity

August 25, 2017

The Lower Sussex Chapter of the NAACP has called for an end of state grant-in-aid assistance to the Georgetown Historical Society because of a Confederate monument placed on its property in 2007.

The rawness of slavery and its racist underpinnings, even after more than 150 years since President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, is not an issue foreign to Sussex County. Though Delaware remained with the Union, Sussex was a slave-holding county, and home to supporters of and soldiers in the Confederate cause.

The Confederate monument in Georgetown is the only one in Delaware. It has become a local lightning rod for the storms surrounding radical white nationalist movements and clashes with the majority in this nation who embrace inclusivity and strength in diversity, and want to move beyond racism.
Unlike most of the monuments that have been removed across the South, the Georgetown monument stands on private property. Had it been proposed for public property back in 2007, it would never have been more than a bad idea.

Should a private organization be eligible for state grant-in-aid funding so long as it provides space for a monument that celebrates a painful, though clearly important, chapter in our history?

Typically in nonpolitical fashion, historical societies spotlight history so people are aware of paths that have brought us to where we are. The monument in Georgetown is a minor, though obviously sensitive, part of the overall offerings of the society on its complex.

Legislators assure us that grant-in-aid funds are not used for the monument. At the very least, they should recognize the sensitivity of this issue, while at the same time recognizing the positive and costly aspects of preserving history, by having written documentation from the society stating that no state funding will be used for maintenance of the Confederate monument and that such funding will be halted if an audit determines otherwise.

The simplest solution would be for the society to deed the ground where the monument stands to the organizations that placed it, and remove all possible connection to state funding.

 

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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