Committee for Augusta NAACP chapter to investigate Confederate monument’s history

Melvin Ivey, First VP of the Augusta Chapter of the NAACP speaks to the crowd gathered near the Confederate Monument durng the rally in Augusta Thursday afternoon August 24, 2017. MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF

A local NAACP committee will reach out to historians to do research on Augusta’s downtown Confederate monument in its next step toward removing the memorial.

 

Rev. Melvin Ivey, vice president and committee chair of the Augusta chapter, met with 12 committee members for the first time earlier this week . The members signed up at a rally Aug. 12 at the 76-foot tall monument that drew 200 people.

“It was extremely fruitful,” he said. “We were able to identify some areas that definitely needed to be addressed on our path forward.”

The discussion Tuesday centered on conducting research into the history of the monument in the 700 block of Broad Street, and its connection to the Civil War.

The downtown Confederate monument has marble statues of a Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, representing the South; Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb, representing Georgia; and William Henry Talbot Walker, representing Augusta and Richmond County. Topping the monument is a statue of Sgt. Berry Benson, who represents Confederate soldiers.

Part of an engraving into the north-facing side of the monument is the single line of a poem: “No nation rose so white and fair: none fell so pure of crime.”

Ivey said history is a vital part of the committee’s research and should bring understanding to “who and what was represented, and the interest that was at hand” during the time the monument was established.

“We believe as a group that education is the key and to come into a resolution so all parties would understand the impact that the statues have not only in the city of Augusta but all throughout the state,” Ivey said.

To assist with their research, committee members plan to contact local historians, Ivey said.

“A lot of the time the story isn’t told properly by the common person,” he said. “Historians have a tendency to look into history and take history very seriously so we’re going to reach out to (them).”

The committee will also reach out to groups such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans to further its research, Ivey said.

The next step after gathering information will be hosting a community forum to discuss findings.

“We want to get to the truth,” Ivey said. “History is a big push for us right now and we have a group of people that will search different areas of the question and the position of the state when it comes to the removal.”

The committee’s next scheduled meeting is at 6 p.m. Sept. 26 at the chapter branch office at 1101 11th Street.

 

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