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Now that Attorney General Mark Herring has weighed in with a legal opinion that the Confederate soldier monument on Loudoun’s Old Courthouse grounds cannot be moved, under current law, it would seem to me the Board of Supervisors would we wise to find a middle course on this whole controversy and look at the solution Catoctin District Supervisor Geary Higgins (R) and I offered in the Time-Mirror’s rundown of local officials comments in the Aug. 24 issue.

In our comments, Mr. Higgins and I noted that the board we served on in 2015 agreed to fund $50,000 toward a memorial to African-American slaves in Loudoun. I wish to summarize his very well reasoned comments:

“Loudoun is not Charlottesville. There is no place in Loudoun for the activities that occurred in Charlottesville ... Our history is our strength not our weakness. It is incumbent on all of us to tell Loudoun’s entire history. How can we learn from our history if we hide it?

“In 2015 the Board of Supervisors voted to give $50,000 to support a slave memorial on the courthouse grounds that has yet to be proposed or built. This is important because in 1860, 5,501 slaves lived in Loudoun County, 25 percent of Loudoun’s 21,744 population. This is an important part of Loudoun’s history that must be memorialized.

“The Confederate soldier statute should not stand alone on the courthouse grounds. In my view, it is only right that it should be joined by a memorial to Loudoun’s slaves and a memorial to its Union soldiers. In 2015, we were talking about telling Loudoun’s whole story. This is the correct approach.”

That is my position on this issue, too, and unfortunately, it was not apparent to the reporter doing the story, so I was listed as not answering the question.

Removing a monument will not end racism, nor will it memorialize the thousands who were enslaved in this county. Instead, it will create a lot of angst and division and possibly bring lunatic fringe groups here to protest, potentially the detested KKK and neo-Nazis. If located at Ball’s Bluff Cemetery, it will be harder to police and may invite more vandalism, possibly the vandalizing of the graves of Confederate soldiers there. It sets a bad precedent, too, as the next thing, some may demand changing Route 50 from John Mosby Highway or the town of Leesburg, which is named after a slave-holding relative of Robert E. Lee. 
We’ve already witnessed controversy and ill feeling when government tries to police symbols, notably the 2009-2012 battle over religious displays on the Old Courthouse grounds. For decades, a Leesburg-area family placed a handmade nativity scene on the Old Courthouse lawn during Christmas season without controversy until the former Courthouse Grounds Committee decided in November 2009 to ban it.
Over the next few Christmas seasons, due to the involvement of the Board of Supervisors, we were treated to outrageous displays, primarily by atheist groups, including a crucified skeleton Santa. It was only under Chairman York’s leadership that we ended the controversy, not by banning displays, but allowing appropriate holiday displays for all faiths, which is legal, too. 

So, before the current Board of Supervisors wishes to open up this can of worms again with its Legislative Agenda, it would be wise to revisit the slave memorial and the fine proposal Supervisor Higgins presented in this paper. The Leesburg Town Council, so you all know has no jurisdiction over the Courthouse grounds.

I am sure a number of local business and government leaders will be happy to step in to secure private funds to design and build a monument to African-Americans who played a significant role in Loudoun County, but suffered under slavery and Jim Crow.

Hon. Kenneth Reid

Councilman, Town of Leesburg

Comments


There are no confederate graves at Balls Bluff Cemetery, ask Ron Meyers?


I propose a bunch of former slaves and Union soldiers looking down on the existing statue while holding their fingers in an “L” on their foreheads.


I see we are treated again to the hypocrisy of Ken Reid.  When he is looking for publicity he is more than happy to champion a cause.  But now, for a cause that he had no part in, he wants to grab back publicity, and, in fine Ken Reid habit, propose something that he knows is not going to happen. Classic Ken Reid.  If it were a “sure thing” it would already have been done.  The best way to demonstrate that we no longer accept the harm created by the Jim Crow era, is to junk the statue, as scrape metal. There are elected officials who have taken the position to do the right thing.  The last thing we need are elected officials like Ken Reid, who want nothing to happen.

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