NAACP: Confederate monument must be removed from Georgetown

As the specter of white nationalist terrorism grows across America — from the Charleston church shooting to the Portland train stabbing to last weekend’s murderous rampage in Charlottesville — it has become increasingly clear that this country’s Confederate monuments are no longer testaments to the past, but idols of white nationalist future.

When these structures — and the Confederate flag that so often waves alongside them – become a rallying point for Nazis, the Kul Klux Klan, and white supremacists, they exist only as a divisive threat to the greatness of America as the most inclusive and diverse country on earth.

While we give credit to the Delaware lawmakers who joined together to denounce the hate and violence of the white supremacists in Charlottesville, we cannot help but feel like more action is required by our local officials to offer the clear delineation between right and wrong that our President seems unable to acknowledge.

We are calling on Sen. Brian Pettyjohn and Rep. Ruth Briggs King, who represent Georgetown in the General Assembly to immediately call on the Controller General’s Office to halt its payment of $11,500 in Grant-in-Aid money to the Georgetown Historical Society until it removes the Delaware Confederate Monument from its grounds.

We certainly believe in a private organization’s constitutional right to free speech — even speech that serves to demean and taunt persons of color, many of whom are descendants of the very slaves the Confederacy fought against the United States to kee keep. But we were shocked and dismayed to learn that taxpayer dollars are in subsidizing that message and that must end immediately

Louise Henry
President, Lower Sussex NAACP


EDITOR’S NOTE: Rep. Ruth Briggs King responded Thursday with the following statement:

“The grant funding that was appropriated this past year for the Georgetown Historical Society was only a very small portion of a much larger funding measure for nonprofits throughout the entire state. The $37.2 million Grant-in-Aid bill was considered and approved by the 62 members of the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Carney.

“We have a certain process for allocating funding for Delaware’s nonprofit organizations and to begin now with efforts to revoke funding for a particular organization outside of that process is a slippery slope I am sure no one wants to venture upon.

“I continue to fully support a more thorough review of each nonprofit group that receives Grant-in-Aid funding, to ensure fairness and equity to the public and the organizations. But, to single out the Georgetown Historical Society – or any other group for that matter – in this particular way when nothing illegal has occurred and to immediately withdraw the funding they use for many important and worthy projects is not something I support at all.

“The Historical Society adds great value to our community and the $11,500 they receive in Grant-in-Aid funding is used to educate and memorialize our town and our county’s rich history. The Historical Society permitted the use of the property for the display; however, they have not used any public or association funds toward the display.

“We, as lawmakers, are not in the business of rewriting historical facts, including those we may not necessarily agree with; moreover, we should learn from them. If we prohibit the Georgetown Historical Society from educating the public on the events that shaped our country and state then what message are we sending as Americans?

“We cannot – and should not – rewrite history, nor can we deny the past. Let us learn from the mistakes of the past, and address concerns and issues in a deliberate process.

“I remain firm in my position that Grant-in-Aid funding for the Georgetown Historical Society should remain intact and I look forward to a review of all Grant-in-Aid recipients in the upcoming year.”

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