Susan McCrobie, Kentucky Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy president, applauded Daviess Fiscal Court’s decision to delay its vote on removing the Confederate statue from the grounds of the Daviess County Courthouse.
On Tuesday, members of the court were expected to vote on a resolution regarding the Confederate monument that would have returned the Confederate statue to the DOC, and moved it to property south of Panther Creek on U.S. 431 owned by the chapter.
Instead, Commissioner George Wathen presented a surprise motion that would see the court postpone the vote until Aug. 6. Commissioners Charlie Castlen and Mike Koger followed suit with Wathen, with Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly voting against delay.
For McCrobie, the decision to delay was the right move, especially given that she would like to see the statue remain in public view, she said.
“I’m glad that they delayed the vote,” she said. “It gives the citizens a chance to be heard. If they vote to remove it from that site, then we have an agreement to relocate it to another site. Our division has one general convention each year in October and in all honesty, I think our whole division needs a say on it, and we need to decide as a group on what we want to accomplish.”
McCrobie disagrees with the assertion that the monuments hold any racist overtones.
“We have the same mission that we have had for 123 years,” she said. “It was to take care of the soldiers as they came home and educate and provide for the orphans. Many of those soldiers didn’t have graves that were marked and that is why many of these monuments were erected; they were tributes and memorials in honor of those that fought for the Southland during the federal government’s invasion. The idea that they signify white supremacy is not truthful; it isn’t a truthful statement. During that time, these women couldn’t impact laws and couldn’t vote and many didn’t have jobs outside of the home; these monuments were strictly meant to be memorials. I would like to see it remain in public view. I am disappointed in how things are handled in today’s time. The biggest is communication. I am disappointed in the people bringing that grievance to the court and not bringing us into that dialogue. When you don’t get all parties, there is no expectation of a real settlement.”
Mattngly has worked in recent weeks with members of the community led by the Rev. Rhondalyn Randolph, president of the Owensboro NAACP Branch 3107, who would like to see the statue removed as well as the DOC to find a suitable solution.
However, according to emails obtained by the Messenger-Inquirer through open records requests, no matter the resolution, McCrobie doesn’t believe that the NAACP should have a say in the statue’s fate, according to the email sent on June 25.
“I understand from second-hand information that the Owensboro NAACP intends to hold some type of outdoor rally in the next few days to tell the good people of Daviess County the history behind our monument,” McCrobie wrote. The Owensboro NAACP has no standing to do so as the monument was not an idea brought to fruition by their organization and they do not hold any records as to the history behind the monument to enlighten the assembled and as they have not contacted me as the official spokesperson for owners of the monument. I can only say that their intentions have been somewhat ill conceived and problematic. Furthermore, any opinions they have as to what is proper placement of our memorial monument as noted on Resolution 18-2020 is not any matter we wish to entertain as they have no standing to do so.”
For Randolph, despite hopes that the community outcry for the removal of the statue would be heard by the court, she did not expect the process to be “smooth,” she said.
”In my heart and mind, I knew something like this would happen,” she said. “From what I can gather, we are almost there. I know that there are people working to resolve the issue. Their point of contention is where it is going to be located which brings me to question what is the problem with the property that was initially proposed, is it removing it from a place of prominence? The proposed location flows into the narrative, and it would be a fitting location for what was happening in history at that time, which is why there was no argument from me when it was presented.”
Randolph fears that the intent of the DOC is to place the statue in a place of prominence that continues the “glorification of the Confederate cause,” she said.
”In my heart, it would be in the museum where it could build on a larger narrative about Owensboro history,” she said. “If their intent is to place it in an area of prominence, will they be able to keep it within the historical narrative or will it allow them to further glorify or promote the Confederate cause without giving an actual account of what they stood for? That is my fear. It shapes attitudes about how people feel about other people and what they think because that propaganda and legacy was white supremacy and racism. They were pushing for others to be second-class citizens and generations were taught this. In our coalition to remove the statue, we have people from all walks of life working to move our community forward. There are others that have been taught the narrative of hate through the propaganda that was pushed by groups like the Daughters of the Confederacy and the KKK that create an atmosphere of oppression. We will continue to make our voices heard and will work to have the statue taken off of public property because it is inappropriate for it to be there.”
As far as the court’s ultimate decision and how they will move forward, it is in the court of the commissioners, Mattingly said.
”I will reiterate how disappointed I was,” he said. “How long is enough time? I know Commissioner Wathen was disappointed when we spent two and a half months officially discussing the fairness ordinance. When it was implied that this issue only had a week, I don’t know where the commissioners have been, but this issue has been going on since 2012. That is plenty of time to make a decision. Delaying will not change the minds on either side. I would love to put the issue on the ballot, but our constitution forbids that. As I said, it is in their court and I await for them to tell me how they want this resolved. I presented my best efforts. While Mrs. McCrobie doesn’t think that African Americans in this community have a right to voice their opinion, in fact, they have as much right as anybody else.”
Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, email@example.com