BY MIKE FUHRMAN
A friend and I were discussing the current state of affairs in our country recently when he recited a Bible verse that has really resonated with me:
Therefore, let us no longer judge one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in the way of your brother or sister.
That simple verse, from Romans 14:13, could provide a framework for healing across our nation and in our community.
While some people view the presence of the Confederate monument on the grounds of the Iredell County Government Center as an appropriate tribute to fallen soldiers, for others it serves as a painful and constant reminder of the racial discrimination, oppression and hatred that has divided us for too long.
To many people of color, the monument stands as an enduring symbol of the inequities that have pervaded our justice system as well as our education, financial, housing, healthcare and political systems for more than 400 years.
During last week’s Iredell County Board of Commissioners meetings, NAACP President Todd Scott urged the commissioners to remove the Confederate statue, calling it a painful reminder of slavery and Jim Crow. It wasn’t the first time the NAACP has made that request.
Based on conversations I’ve had with three of the five commissioners, they have no plans to move the monument in the near future.
That is a mistake. And years from now, if not sooner, it will be evident that this board has taken a stand on the wrong side of history.
Our commissioners, who are elected to represent all citizens of Iredell County, have an opportunity to publicly acknowledge the pain of many of their constituents and remove this stumbling block from the grounds of a government facility where everyone should feel welcome.
Commissioners can do so without causing undue distress to those in our community who embrace the Confederate monument as a memorial to their ancestors and other residents of this county who died on the battlefield during the Civil War.
The monument, which is owned by the Daughters of the Confederacy, should be moved to a museum or to private property, where it can be viewed by those who choose to do so in the proper historical context.
Throughout the nationwide unrest that has followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, I have chosen to look for signs of hope. And there have been plenty.
People who have previously remained silent in the face of blatant discrimination are now speaking out against all forms of injustice. Companies, universities, sports associations and state and local governments across the country are rejecting symbols of hate and divisiveness.
Here in Iredell County, elected officials have taken the time to listen to their constituents’ concerns about racial inequity. They have supported peaceful demonstrations. Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh, SPD Chief David Addison, and Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins all walked in marches alongside protesters who were demanding social justice reform.
As Paul the Apostle reminded us in Romans 14:13, we are all brothers and sisters. We have an opportunity to move forward as one family and create a better future for our entire family. But first we must acknowledge that the systems that govern, regulate and organize our society have advanced the interests of white people while holding back all communities of color for more than four centuries.
Removing a monument that many of our brothers and sisters view as a tribute to a lost cause to preserve human bondage would be a symbolic move in the right direction in our community. And then we can start working on addressing the systemic issues that continue to hinder many people of color throughout our community.
Mike Fuhrman is editor of Iredell Free News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.