Helen Simmons made it clear that she didn’t want a committee to study the Confederate Memorial in front of Nottoway Courthouse.
But now the Board of Supervisors Chair has asked that the Board’s Courthouse Complex/Landfill Committee offer a report or recommendation in time for the Board’s Aug. 20th meeting.
That Board committee -- comprised of District One Supervisor Steve Bowen and District Five Supervisor Lynn Shekleton -- is scheduled to meet tomorrow (Thursday, July 30th) at 5:30 p.m. in the County Administrator’s Office.
“Two white people” is how Bowen described the committee’s racial make-up at the Board’s July 16th meeting. Bowen expressed concern about the optics and long-term outcome of a decision split along racial lines, saying such would cause a further divide.
“Let’s suppose we vote tonight,” Bowen said during the July 16th discussion, “and the three Caucasians vote one way, and the two African-Americans vote another way. We will have caused MORE DIVIDE. We will have made it a racial thing. I don’t want it to be a racial thing, I want it to be THE RIGHT THING.”
Chair Ms. Simmons wanted a vote that night to remove the monument, but Supervisor John Roark asked her to consider forming a committee of both monument opponents and local descendants of those whose names are inscribed on the 1893 Memorial. Supervisor Roark said he believes the two groups can find common ground.
Ms. Simmons said the Board already has “enough committees...Are we gonna form a committee for everything here in Nottoway County?”
Ms. Simmons apparently reconsidered her stance after the board’s meeting. Supervisors that night heard from 11 speakers on the monument -- six asked officials to remove and relocate it, while five asked that it remain where it’s stood for 127 years.
A letter from County Administrator Ronnie Roark to the committee -- relaying Ms. Simmons’ wishes -- was sent July 20th -- the 127th anniversary of the monument’s dedication.