Oxonians debate fate of Confederate statue

Posted on Sep 5 2017 - 8:24pm by Rachel Ishee

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors met with a packed room Tuesday night to discuss the possible relocation of a Confederate memorial statue in Oxford. A total of four people spoke, two for and two against moving the memorial, voicing their opinions on what Lafayette County should do with the statues.

Before the discussion began, Board President Jeff Busby said no decision would be made that night.

“No decision is going to be made on this tonight,” Busby said. “We are going to take it under advisement after we hear from the people that want to speak, and then we are going to make the best decision that the five of us can with the input of the county, as well.”

A Confederate statue stands in front of the courthouse on the Square. Photo by Billy Schuerman

Oxford resident Effie Burt was the first speaker and shared why she believed the statue should be moved.

She opened with an anecdotal story about telling her daughter that Santa Claus was real. One day her daughter came home angry, wondering why her mother never told her the whole truth about Santa.

“My question to you is: Did your parents tell you the whole truth about what that Confederate flag meant, the statues … Did your parents tell you the whole truth, or did they just tell you some of it?”

She then condemned the actions of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

“[Gen. Lee] fought to keep many black people as slaves, and we all know that,” Burt said. “The Confederate monuments were mostly built during the 1900s through 1930. That was a time when there was lynching and racist groups, like the KKK, who ran my mama and her parents out of Lafayette County because my daddy refused to obey an order from a white man.”

Burt offered a solution to move the statue to a place where it could be seen by those who want to see it.

“There are museums all over the country,” Burt said. “I feel that we should move the Confederate flag and the Confederate monuments into a museum where they can be appreciated by those who feel that they were not oppressed by them like I feel like I was.”

Jerry Bratton, a war veteran and Oxford resident, opened his argument against removing the statue by explaining his view of it.

A Confederate statue is also situated in the Circle on campus. Photo by Billy Schuerman

“I feel that this statue is basically for our veterans,” Bratton said. “It’s been there for over 100 years, and I don’t think that the little guy has raped anybody; I don’t think that he’s sold drugs or anything like that.”

He also questioned the race of the statue.

“You don’t know if it wasn’t made after a black man or a white man because both black and white fought,” he said.

Bratton ended his remarks by addressing the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma heading toward land.

“We are here in Oxford, Mississippi, upset about a concrete statue that’s been there for over 100 years,” he said. “I just think we got more to do in life than to worry about something like this.”

While a decision is not going to be made right away, Busby welcomed the opinions of all residents.

“We’re going to take what everyone said under advisement,” Busby said. “We will be seeking opinions from people in the community as we go forward. We’re not going to make a decision [tonight], but we will keep everyone informed of what we’re doing and how we are going to go about things.”