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Council Votes Unanimously To Tear Down All Confederate Monuments

The fatal protests in Charlottesville, Virginia have shaken up the entire country. The tragedy has inspired many southern towns to push harder to put an end to some painful reminders of the past. The town of Lexington, Kentucky held a vote at a meeting on Thursday night, and the town council unanimously voted to move Confederate statues out of the downtown area.

The John C. Breckinridge Memorial and John Hunt Morgan Memorial have stood in Lexington's downtown district for more than 100 years, but after the devastating violence that rocked Charlottesville earlier this month over the removal of the General Robert E. Lee statue, they will soon be gone. The proposal to relocate the statue first came in 2015, but on the same day of the Charlottesville tragedy, Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington announced that the vote would be pushed forward immediately.

“We have thoroughly examined this issue, and heard from many of our citizens,” Gray said. “The tragic events in Charlottesville today have accelerated the announcement I intended to make next week.”

The 15-member Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council members met on Thursday. Police were present to manage the crowd at the meeting, with onlookers filling the chamber, lobby and spilling out onto the streets. Their presence wasn't necessary, however, as the crowd erupted into applause over the result of the vote. Council members voted unanimously to relocate the statues.

Gray announced after the vote that Prometheus Bronze Foundry and Duncan Machinery Movers offered to remove the statues for free. Now, the town is seeking a new home for the monuments. The Blue Grass Community Foundation is raising money for any costs that might be involved.

The mayor was very pleased by the result of the vote. “Cities have recognized the need to stand up and tell the truth,” Gray said. “We must be adults today. Enough. Is. Enough.”

The statues in question were initially erected during the Jim Crow movement. The purpose of the monuments was to intimidate black residents and show white supremacy. Herb Miller, a Lexington resident, argues that removing the statues is not sanitizing history. “Leaving them in a public place of honor is also sanitizing history,” he argues.

Only four people were present to voice opposition to the moving of the statues. “I reject the idea that they were put up there to frighten blacks,” said Burl McCoy, one of the few protesters. He notes that Breckinridge was a vice president of the U.S., and that Morgan was a 'leader of men'.

Sons of Confederate Veterans Sam Flora said the answer should not be stripping the city of Confederate statues, but adding black Union soldier statues.

P.G. Peeples of the Urban League of Lexington disagrees. Cheapside Park was known as one of the largest slave markets in the pre-Civil War south. Peeples says that the statues of Breckinridge and Morgan were a painful reminder of the selling and suffering of black slaves in the South.

Source: Herald Leader
Photo: Bedford/Wikimedia Commons

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