A group of concerned citizens has asked Summers County Commissioners to take down or relocate the Confederate soldier monument in Hinton.
According to the commission minutes of Sept. 8, members of the group CARES (Coalition of Anti-Racism & Equity in Summers) expressed their concerns about the monument and what it represents.
In a letter to the commission, dated Sept. 8, CARES member Robin Crawford wrote:
“As you should know the Confederacy and all that serve it committed treason against the United States and slaughtered more than 100,000 United States soldiers. These traitors broke from the United States, created their own nation, issued their own currency, elected their own President, raised an Army and went to war with the United States of America, firing the first shot.”
The letter continues that “In 1861, Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens explained to a cheering audience that the Confederacy was founded expressly to reject the United States proposition that all men were created equal. Instead, Stephens stated, ‘the foundations of our new government are laid, its corner stone rests upon the great truth that the, Negro is not equal to the white man, that slavery, subordination to the superior race in his natural and moral condition.’”
Crawford continued that across the nation these monuments are being removed. They are coming down at a faster pace following the “Charleston, SC Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting in 2015, the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and the murder of George Floyd in 2020.”
Crawford explained in the letter that the Hinton monument was placed in 1914 during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency. Wilson, Crawford stated, was a “segregationist who wrote a history textbook praising the Confederacy and in particular the Ku Klux Klan.”
During the Wednesday, Oct. 6, meeting of the Summers County Commission, CARES members once again stood before the commission to ask that something be done about the statue.
One CARES member stated that others have been receiving threats following the prior meeting. It was noted that CARES members hope threats do not become commonplace.
“Our question this morning is, has the county commission come to a decision about the statue and, if you haven’t, is there a process by which you would come to that decision.”
According to the commission, no decision has been made because West Virginia State Code 29-1-8 declares that it is not their choice to do so—even “if we wanted to.”
“That’s a historical monument. You would have to go through the state and from that point they would have to issue a permit and then it would come back to us.”
One audience member responded, “It is a symbol of white supremacy representing the Ku Klux Klan.”
“What you are saying to the citizens who are telling you that the monument is offensive, it has been all my life . . . you are telling me that you are not going to work with me as a citizen and a taxpayer through any of that situation,” the resident continued.
Commission responded that they have provided alternatives to the Confederate monument.
One option the commission has suggested is to replace the current statue with a Union statue, however, many believe that isn’t really addressing the issue.
Houston, TX, resident Matthew Dougherty was in attendance and said that he had traveled through the area years ago when he first noticed the statue.
He told commissioners that if they leave the statue up they need to wonder about “who’s gonna be drawn to that type of magnet. You are going to end up with people, like in Charlottesville, who came because they thought they were doing something, or you’re gonna have a lone wolf come in here trying to tear it down.”
“I think you are really in treacherous territory,” he continued.
After discussion, CARES members noted that they may need to go to state legislators for a resolution.
The Hinton News received a recent “Letter to the Editor” from Jerry Bryant, who stated he was a resident of Churchville, VA.
“During a recent visit to Hinton, I came across its Confederate Soldier Monument. Though I appreciated the inscription having to do with the suffering and loss experienced by the women who stayed at home during the Civil War, I was taken aback by the inscription having to do with members of the Confederate military. Since the soldiers were fighting against the government under which they had lived and under which we now live, calling them “patriotic” demeans the very concept of patriotism. The phrases “perpetuate to remotest ages” and “lost cause” are not just ill-advised but inflammatory.
Since I am an infrequent visitor to Hinton, I don’t know its culture. Maybe the majority of Hinton residents appreciate the statue’s honoring of those who fought for the Confederacy, against the Union. In any case, when deliberating on the future of the monument, city government might want to consider not only Hinton residents but also the tourists who could find the statue and its inscription unwelcoming.”
A petition on Change.org titled “Do Not Take Down the Confederate Statue in Hinton” received 301 signatures, but it doesn’t seem that the petition has received any new signatures since it was started over a year ago.