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An Eastern Shore Community and Its Confederate Monument

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Local governments across Virginia are taking steps to bring down Confederate statues. But, one community on the Eastern Shore is taking a different approach.

Earlier this year, the Town Council in Parksley on the Eastern Shore was considering the fate of the town’s Confederate statue. Ultimately, council members decided they should look into selling it to the Sons of Confederate Veterans for $1.

Julie Nash was on the town council at the time, and she voted in favor of the idea. 

“So that we could just be free of the controversy, not to preserve it," she explains. "Not because we are taking a stance either way. It was easier just to not take a stance and let someone else handle it.”

The vote was unanimous, and nobody spoke in opposition.

“If there was one vote I could go take back, it would be that one," says Town Council member Dan Matthews. He voted in favor of the idea, but he’s now changed his position. “It seems as if we were trying to sneak one past the goalie so that when all the attention in the world comes down to our monument, we can say, ‘It’s not ours. It’s theirs.’ And it seems to me it’s a way that it’s a way to avoid the conflict and avoid the conversation.”

For now, that conversation is on hold because of legal uncertainty about who exactly owns the statue and the land it’s on. Meanwhile, other proposals are emerging for how to deal with the statue. One is to install a plaque adding more context to the story. Another proposal is to remove it altogether and install a new statue honoring the contributions of Black Virginians.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.