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An open letter to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

You have the opportunity on August 6 to lead the Commonwealth of Virginia in dismantling the symbols of racism and oppression that are ubiquitous on the grounds of our local courthouses. There are 51 Confederate statues or memorials at courthouses throughout the state. Like most of these statues, “At the Ready” was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy as Jim Crow laws were being enacted throughout the South. It was no coincidence that the statue was placed in front of the courthouse.

By deciding to remove this Confederate statue, you can at last begin to atone for the harm done to generations of Black citizens of Albemarle County and Charlottesville. This statue has played a key role in oppressing African Americans and people of color. Both overtly and subliminally, it influences every person who participates in the delivery of justice: the courtroom officials, the witnesses, the attorneys, the jurors and the judges, and even the defendants. Why were so many Confederate monuments erected at Virginia courthouses if not to symbolize the legal system’s alignment with racist and discriminatory practices and intimidate Black citizens?

We have a responsibility to ensure that public monuments reflect the values of our society. For a long time, Virginians were unable to remove Confederate statues from public places according to the state law. That changed as of July 1, 2020 and you have been empowered to make a historic decision to remove this statue. In so doing, you will make a statement not only about how Confederate statues are inconsistent with today’s values but also that they don’t belong on the grounds of courthouses.

It is up to you to set an example for the rest of Virginia and to send a message to the world that we will not abide with racism in any form. However, if you refuse to take appropriate action to remove this monument, you are effectively endorsing the white supremacist values it represents.

Margo Smith

Please join me in supporting the removal of this monument. Submit your comments to the Board of Supervisors here.

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