By Stephen Janis and Taya Graham
Special to the AFRO
The Talbot County Council held a public debate over a resolution to remove a confederate statue from the courthouse lawn Tuesday but deferred a final vote on the proposal until August.
The so-called “Talbot Boys” statue was erected in 1916 as a monument to men who fought on behalf of the Confederacy for the Lower Eastern Shore county. The statue is located on the courthouse lawn in Easton not far from council chambers and directly across the statue from renowned anti-slavery orator and Talbot county native Frederick Douglass.
Proposals to remove the monument in 2015 and 2017 were met with stiff resistance and voted down by the council after tense debate.
The Talbot County Council is debating the removal of the “Talbot Boys” statue, a monument to the Confederacy near the Talbot County courthouse. (Photo: Facebook)
The current resolution requires the monument to be covered until it can be removed along with the base.
Council President Corey Peck, who is African American, has publicly called for the removal of the statue which he deemed a symbol of the county’s racist past.
“My heart has changed on the matter; I believe it is time for the statue to come down,” he told the AFRO, referring to his vote to keep the statue in 2017.
The council barred the public from attending the hearing due health concerns related to COVID-19. However, residents were allowed to comment via telephone, a majority of whom favored the removal of the monument.
A caller identified only as Jasmine pressed the council to remove the monument as a sign of the county moving forward towards a more equitable racial future.
“To commemorate it is to celebrate it,” she said. “The time has come to remove it.”
But another caller identified as Bill said the monument should stay put.
“It’s highly unlikely the soldiers depicted in the statue were fighting to defend the institution of slavery, “he commented.
Talbot County NAACP President Richard Potter urged the council to act swiftly.
“It’s been five long years that this issue has plagued our county,” said Richard Potter, President of Talbot County NAACP. “It’s time to act and act now,”
A notion supported by callers who said they supported the resolution to remove it.
“It’s not up to me as a White woman to decide if the statue is offensive or not,” a caller named Sarah told the council. “It’s up to us to listen to Black people.”
A black resident who called in said the removal of the statue without delay would be a sign the county could finally move forward from its racist past.
“As a black Talbot county native it really concerns me that it has been such a struggle to remove this monument,” he said.
“The question now is what side of history do you want to be a part of?”
The council will hold a vote on resolution August 11th.