Dec. 18, 2020
TO THE EDITOR:
This letter is in response to previous letters regarding the Confederate statue on the grounds of the Carteret County Court House in Beaufort, N.C., and it's positioning facing the Purvis Chapel.
We would like to clarify that the statue was erected facing the Purvis Chapel in May of 1926, well after the church was dedicated to the AME Zion Church made up of African-American congregants. According to the history of the church as noted in the Carteret News Times article by Cheryl Burke on April 24, 2013, both white and black Methodists worshiped together as one congregation with black congregants viewing services from the balcony area.
In 1854 the white members of Purvis Chapel built the Ann St. Methodist Church and gave the Purvis Chapel building to the black members. The congregation remained with white ministers until 1864 when Rev. James Walker Hood decided it would join with the AME Zion Church. The erecting of the Confederate statue was done by the Daughters of the Confederacy, during the heart of the Jim Crow era, and the fact that it was dedicated by a leader of the Ku Klux Klan is not to be overlooked as to the meaning and message of its placement facing the church.
Now is the time to be honest about what the statue stood for – yes, it has been presented that the Confederacy was fighting for state's rights but the truth is that the right they were fighting for was the right to keep and own slaves, which was the basis of their economy at the expense and misuse of black human lives. We are not born with racism in our minds and hearts...it is a taught behavior and it's time for us to unlearn it. For all of us, acknowledging mistakes from our past does not make us weaker, it actually makes us stronger, wiser and kinder. The reality is that we originate from one Source, God, our Heavenly Parent, which then makes us brothers and sisters. No one race or culture is better than the other no matter what color our skin, is just as in the nuclear family, no one child is of more value than another.
It is time to see and enjoy the beauty and worth of each other. We are the generation that has the privilege and responsibility of changing history for all future generations. Guarding the statue with a tall black iron fence which was recently built with public money only reaffirms that it was wrong to put it there in the first place. No one has ever attempted to remove it or deface it. Why are we protecting an icon of a tarnished part of American History?
It's time to follow the example that is being set in Richmond, Virginia, which was once the heart of the Confederacy. The statues are being removed from public and educational places and relocated to cemeteries. Surely there is a more appropriate place for the young soldier atop the monument in Beaufort. Possibly the Civil War site in Newport?
We have heard that there are grant funds available for this purpose. Thus costs would not come out of the pockets of the citizens of Carteret County as did the funds for the fence. Relocating this statue will only enhance Beaufort in the eyes and hearts of all who live, visit, or move here.
KEENAN and CAREN SAMAN