By Stephen Janis and Taya Graham
Special to the AFRO

In a move decried by activists as a step backwards, the Talbot County Council voted against a resolution that would have removed a controversial confederate monument from the courthouse lawn.

The measure which called for the removal of the so-called “Talbot Boys” statue was defeated after a heated debate by a 3-2 vote earlier this month.  The statue was erected in 1916 and remains a stubborn symbol of the county’s support for confederacy during the civil war.

“What the council did tonight was purely racist,” Talbot County NAACP President told the AFRO after the vote. “There is no other way to describe it.”

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 council which includes four White members and one African American voted after several rounds of hearings and attempts to add amendments that would have provided private funding to move the statue and required the base be relocated as well.

During the debate the council’s lone African-American member, Council President Corey Pack, said the failure to remove the monument was a symbol of the county’s inability to renounce its racist past.

“This is a momentous decision,” Pack said. “It speaks volumes of what this county is saying about itself and its reputation.”

Pack had support from one White member for the council Peter Lesher, who voted in favor of the resolution shortly after echoing Pack’s sentiments.

“Our actions tonight sadly speak to who we are as a county, and that we have not changed,” he said.

But the opposing council members argued the decision to remove the memorial to soldiers who fought to preserve slavery should be placed on a ballot for voters to decide.

“I feel very uncomfortable making a decision about something that happened 155 years ago,” said councilman Chuck Callahan.

“I don’t think it should be my decision.”

But Potter said the pivot to referendum was just a ploy to defeat the resolution, noting that the earliest the issue could appear on the ballot would be 2022.

“It was a concerted effort to block the removal of the statue.”

This is the third time the council has failed to pass a measure to remove the Talbot Boys statue.   In 2015 and 2017 the legislative body also failed to pass resolutions to have the statue removed.

After the hearing, Potter said roughly 75 people had assembled outside council chambers vowing to continue their fight to remove the statue.

“We’re waiting for the council to come out,” he said. “We’re not going to stop.”