/Why a Confederate monument endures in majority-black Port Gibson, Claiborne County

Why a Confederate monument endures in majority-black Port Gibson, Claiborne County

Claiborne County is one of these areas. According to U.S. Census 2016 data, Claiborne County has an 86 per cent black population, making it the country’s second-highest percentage of African Americans. A statue of a Confederate soldier is located in the county seat, Port Gibson. On the base of the statue, which measures 20 feet, are inscribed “C.S.A.” the abbreviation of the Confederate States of America and “Claiborne County’s Tribute To Her Sons Who Served In the War of 1861-65.” The monument to Port Gibson was dedicated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy of Claiborne County in 1906. A portrait of Confederate Major-General Earl Van Dorn, Port Gibson’s native, is also featured on the monument. Although similar monuments have been a lightning rod in some Southern cities and are still a problem for residents and county officials, the monument seems to not bother them all that much. Mississippi Today stopped 30 people in Port Gibson who were all black, except one, to ask them about the statue. Fred Reeves is the mayor of the city. He said that he has never heard of any problems with the statue. Reeves stated that he doesn’t believe Port Gibson’s majority, particularly the black residents, have ever gone up to the monument to see what it says. They just take it as a given. It’s part and parcel of Port Gibson’s landscape. It’s just been there for so many years that they have accepted it. “I haven’t given it much thought. That monument’s been there since before my birth. My ancestors were slaves here, and I am a seventh-generation resident. It hasn’t been an issue here at Port Gibson, as far as I know.” Reeves describes the ambivalence that might explain the results of a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey survey conducted in conjunction with Mississippi Today. This poll of 1,152 adults was conducted between September 9th and September 24. It found that 65 percent of respondents opposed the removal of Confederate statues from Mississippi’s public spaces. Respondents to the survey strongly opposed taking down Confederate monuments. 33 percent of respondents supported removing the statues. NBC pollsters didn’t ask about changing the state flag which has become a major issue in Mississippi’s political races in recent decades. A white supremacist shot nine African American churchgoers to death in Charleston, S.C. in 2016. This incident triggered nationwide attention to Confederate imagery. The Confederate flag was used by the shooter as a part of the Mississippi state Flag. The Confederate monuments were removed from public spaces in New Orleans, Memphis, and Baltimore. State Rep. Karl Oliver (R-Winona) stated in Mississippi that anyone who supports the removal Confederate monuments should face execution. Other Republican leaders tried unsuccessfully to defund state universities without allowing them to fly the state flag. This flag has been taken down by several schools and municipalities. Mayor Reeves noted that Claiborne County would decide whether to keep the statue, and not Port Gibson. Reeves was not alone. Several members of the county Board of Supervisors shared similar sentiments. Marie Clark, District 1 County Supervisor, said that she doesn’t know whether the NAACP will rise against it. “But, I don’t know if there’s any big controversy. Clark stated that no one has ever discussed the statue with Clark. Ronald Shoulders, District 4 County Supervisor said that he had no objection to the statue. “I believe it should remain there. According to the city’s website, Port Gibson was the site of several Civil War battles. Many of the city’s buildings survived wartime, as Union Army leader Ulysses S. Grant claimed that Port Gibson was “too beautiful for burn.” This quote is on Port Gibson’s city limits sign. According to the 2016 edition of Whose Heritage, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report, “Whose Heritage?” Public Symbols and Confederacy: Mississippi has 131 Confederate Monuments, which include street names, buildings, and ranks fifth after Virginia, Texas and North Carolina.