you're reading...

Cornelius News

Will he budge? Community leaders sign open letter calling for removal of monument

Donald Archer at the monument after it was vandalized

Aug. 28. By Dave Yochum. A wide variety of elected officials, church leaders and community leaders have signed an open letter to the Mt. Zion Monumental Association that maintains the Confederate Monument facing Zion Avenue in Cornelius, asking them to remove the statue as soon as possible.

The letter says the “reckoning happening across our country has once again brought attention to the monument in Cornelius” and asks members of the association to “hear our collective appeal for justice and to acknowledge the pain this monument continues to inflict upon Black people across Mecklenburg County and others who view it as a tribute to those who fought to keep Black people in chains.”

Signatories include NC Sen. Natasha Marcus, NC Rep. Christy Clark, Davidson Mayor Rusty Knox, Cornelius Mayor Pro Tem Denis Bilodeau, Cornelius commissioners Jim Duke and Thurman Ross, County Commissioner Elaine Powell, among others, as well as faith leaders Rev. David Hockett, District Superintendent, Metro District of the Western NC Conference of the United Methodist Church; the Rev. Stacy Cochran Nowell, Huntersville, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church/Huntersville; the Rev. Dr. Mike Moses, Huntersville, Lead Pastor, Lake Forest Church/Huntersville.

Carol Quillen, the president of Davidson College, also signed the letter, which states that “the relocation of the monument should not be seen as a conservative vs. liberal issue or a Democrat vs. Republican issue.” To read the full list of signatories, click here.

The letter says: “It is, as we see it, simply a matter of justice. None of us should let pride or stubbornness prevent us from doing the right thing.” To read the letter, click here.

So far, association leader Donald Archer, a Statesville resident, has not responded. Sources said Cornelius Mayor Woody Washam, who did not sign the letter, is communicating with the association about how to move the monument. At a rally in front of the monument last month, he said it is “coming down, one way or another.”

Archer has not responded to requests for comment from Cornelius Today.

In June, Unity in Community, a group advocating for a conscious approach to equity and diversity, called on the Monumental Association to remove the monument. In July more than 150 people, including political and faith leaders, gathered peacefully in front of the monument, calling for its removal. The governing body of the United Methodist church has also asked for it to be removed from that portion of the church’s front lawn

During his speech in front of the monument at the July rally, Washam mentioned concerns that someone could get hurt if citizens take matters into their own hands.

The open letter says: “We do not advocate vandalism or violence in any way; however, there can be no doubt that not removing the monument leaves it open to such activity.”

Dan Ahlers photo

Rally at Confederate Monument in July 2020/Dan Ahlers photography