Mississippi.(Ben Caxton)—Refusing to give up, some north Mississippi residents are still urging an all-white board of county officials to move a Confederate monument away from an old courthouse on the town square in Oxford.
The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors voted in July to keep the rebel soldier statue in place, with one supervisor saying he had been a victim of racism because he’s white and others saying that African American leaders had never expressed concerns about the statue.
A newspaper’s public-records request shows that the Lafayette County supervisors received messages from business people, college athletes and politicians who asked them to relocate the monument because it presents an unwelcoming image in a diverse community.
Former Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth owns Square Books, which faces the monument. He texted several supervisors and asked them to relocate the monument because it’s “both the smart and the right thing” to do.
Howorth later told the Daily Journal that debate about the monument has lasted too long.
Kesha Howell-Atkinson, the only Black woman on the Oxford Board of Aldermen, emailed several supervisors June 13, saying the statue “is a negative representation” of Oxford, and she would like to see it relocated.
“I believe the statue also hinders positive strides our town and community at large have made in the area of race relations,” Howell-Atkinson wrote. “There are projects, people and events coming to Oxford. We should not allow visitors to be able to judge us, develop a negative impression of our community and convey to others a negative impression about us.”
Another Oxford alderman, Janice Antonow, told supervisors in a mid-July email that she would give them “complete support” if they moved the statue.