IW has changed for the better

Published 6:32 pm Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

I stand in agreement with the editorial “Supervisors made right call on statue” (March 3).

After 116 years, the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors has agreed to relocate the Confederate dead statue from its standing on Isle of Wight County public property.

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The editorial says that the community will now be “free of a symbol that divided our community, and would have continued to do so.” If this statue divides society, why did so many advocate for it to remain in the heart of it?

A statue should be a celebration. A community’s unique opportunity to take a collective pause and think: What will we be remembered for?

We must remember the historical context of when prominent Confederate monuments were placed in the community: the Jim Crow era. In 1905, Isle of Wight County contributed to the Jim Crow era by erecting its own Confederate monument. This was a time in history when there was a continual surge of racism and legal segregation to remain firm in our country’s foundation. When viewing our “beloved” statues, we mustn’t gloss over this uncomfortable fact.

As Southerners, we must stop placing public memories on our statues. It is time to take an intentional, collective action to move forward from the past errors and stop the cycle of white supremacy and hate. It is vital to listen to all community members to define the representation of “home.”

It is important to remember that those with the most significant power were the loudest voices during the original Confederate monuments’ placement. Our community has changed for the better since the initial creation of the statues. It is time that this change is seen not only for our present society but for future generations to come.

This does not mean that we should not honor the dead and celebrate our heritage. Yet attempting to reflect these valuable messages through Confederate statues is a chapter that needs to end.

Isle of Wight, you have taken your first step by removing the Confederate monument. You have been given this rare opportunity to create significant change in your community. You have the power to lead by example. What will you do with this opportunity?


Linda May Mullis

Christopher Newport University