The Most Rev. William Medley, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Owensboro, has made a public plea for the removal of the Confederate statue on the Daviess County Courthouse lawn.
On Wednesday, Medley submitted a letter to the Messenger-Inquirer’s Readers Write.
“For many years the presence of a monument to Confederate war dead has been a contradictory symbol to many people, most especially African American citizens,” Medley wrote. “The cause of the Confederacy cannot be separated from the defense of human slavery.”
In the letter, Medley told readers he has expressed his opinion to Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly and county commissioners.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Medley said he became aware of the Confederate statue controversy at a June 5 rally against racism and discrimination at Smothers Park. The rally was spurred by the deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Louisville. Both were Black individuals killed this year in incidents involving police officers.
Medley was one of several clergy who offered prayers at the event.
“I heard the voices from the community,” he said of the rally.
The Rev. Rhondalyn Randolph, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, was one of those who spoke that night. At one point in her presentation, she asked for the statue’s removal.
Medley and Randolph talked after the rally. Their conversation helped galvanize his support for moving the statue from public property, he said.
“Thoughtful people can look at that Confederate monument and see that it does not recognize the dignity of people,” he said. “ ... For me, the statue represents an embarrassment.”
Medley said he hopes his letter to Readers Write encourages all county residents to stand behind the statue’s removal, but especially those of the Catholic faith.
“The monument might properly be preserved and displayed in a museum setting where its fuller history can be explained and the embarrassment it has represented may be acknowledged,” Medley wrote in his Readers Write letter.
Daviess Fiscal Court was to consider a resolution on June 30 to relocate the 120-year-old statue to a site within Daviess County owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. However, the Fiscal Court voted 3-1 to postpone the vote until Aug. 6.
Randolph appreciated Medley’s support. She has been vocal about moving the statue for several years.
She said Medley “spoke with clarity and truth” in his letter.
“We can no longer gloss over the purposes and ideals that the Confederacy stood for,” Randolph said. “It’s time for (the statue) to be removed and to stop with the political posturing and to do the right thing because racism, at its core, is evil and wrong.”
She agrees with Medley. The statue should go to a museum.
“The preservation of history and what the Confederacy stood for needs to be told for generations to come,” Randolph said.
Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, firstname.lastname@example.org