This may well be the final time we pen an editorial on Loudoun County’s Confederate statue issue (problem).
At long last, the time has come. That thing is getting gone.
With the Board of Supervisors’ unanimous vote this week, the monument that has rested at the foot of the Loudoun County Courthouse for 112 years is on its way out. The United Daughters of the Confederacy has until early September to come collect its property.
Many people deserve credit for leading the charge on removal, local NAACP leaders Phillip Thompson, Pastor Michelle Thomas and county Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) among them.
“I have been vehemently fighting to have this statue removed for six years,” Thompson said. “As president of the Loudoun NAACP, we held a rally in 2015 demanding its removal. We petitioned the county in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to have it removed. We pushed for legislation for many years and finally got it passed in 2020. I appreciate the leadership of Chair Phyllis Randall and Vice Chair Koran Saines, the other members of the Board of Supervisors and the Loudoun state delegation.”
Unfortunately, Tuesday night’s vote wasn’t the unifying moment it could’ve been, thanks to first-term Supervisor Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin).
As Randall noted Wednesday, “The unanimous vote that occurred last night did not happen because all of my colleagues realized the statue never should have been erected, it occurred because the United Daughters of the Confederacy knew that after 112 years the tide had finally turned and requested their property back.”
“The UDC does not deserve credit for being forced to undo what should have never been done,” Randall continued. “Removing a monument to the Confederacy doesn’t erase history, it corrects it. I was proud to cast my vote in the name of thousands of African Americans citizens who came before me, who were enslaved, who lived through Jim Crow, who were freedom fighters and who have now passed on. Now, it’s time to look to the future and have a community conversation that includes the voices of all Loudoun’s citizens, not just a select few. Together, we will decide what monuments should sit on public property.”
Indeed, the vote didn’t come because all supervisors finally recognized the stain the statue has been on Loudoun for more than a century — and especially since the racist, deadly riots in Charlottesville and recent killings of unarmed Black people at the hands of law enforcement.
No, in what could’ve been a coalescing moment, Kershner, the lone board member who recently voiced support for keeping the monument at the courthouse, chose to speak up, yet again, in defense of the statue.
“If indeed this is the statue of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, then I think we have no other choice but then to adopt this motion. I think then we would face a legal battle otherwise. I will support the motion for that, not because I would like to see the statue removed or any other statue. You know, this is just one statue … it’s much more the precedent that I am very, very, very concerned that we will be setting, and that is anything that has some inkling of offense in history … ”
Inkling. Inkling? A monument commemorating the “Lost Cause” of slavery carries only an “inkling” of offense? Talk about offensive.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy’s return request was the closing chapter in the monument debate no one seemed to see coming. But we contend it may be the swiftest and safest conclusion. We’re proud of Loudoun’s elected leaders and citizens alike for not taking to the streets in violent protest or attempting to bring down the monument themselves. We’re proud most of the citizenry has realized it’s past time to do away with symbols and celebrations of our dark, inexplicable and despicable past. Simply, we’re just proud that thing is getting gone.