SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - Salisbury Mayor Al Heggins has sent a letter to the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the NAACP, and several other groups inviting them to a discussion over the future of the Confederate monument known as Fame.
The letter, acquired through a stakeholder, notes that the statue has been vandalized with paint on two occasions recently:
I hope this invitation finds each of you in good health and spirit! I send this invitation in the hope we can come together to discuss the Confederate Monument Fame.
Unfortunately, the Fame statue has been vandalized twice in the span of less than a year. Each time the statue is vandalized, it brings us closer to possibly experiencing a violent disruption to human relations in our City.
I desire to be proactive. Most importantly, I desire we all engage in deliberative discourse that can model for our City what human respect and empathy looks like for vastly differing perspectives.
As such, I’m proposing we come to the table with open minds, open hearts, open ears and the extended hands of friendship to exchange our thoughts about Fame and how our community should move forward.
The mayor asks for a meeting on Tuesday, May 28, in a conference room in City Hall.
The format is to have one representative from each stakeholder organization; and only one from each organization will be allowed. The reason for this format is to allow for real discussion and not create an environment of being out numbered. The emphasis is to hear one another.
I will facilitate, as I have the background, training and experience to do so. I also care very deeply about how each of you feel about Fame.
A continental breakfast will be provided.
The invited organizations are NC United Daughters of the Confederacy, Robert F. Hoke Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Rowan Chapter of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, Rowan Museum, Salisbury-Rowan Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Salisbury Indivisible, Women for Community Justice, Mayor Pro Tem Post, City Manager Lane Bailey.
Following the vandalism to the statue in March, Gemale Black, the president of the local chapter of the NAACP, sent a letter to the mayor demanding a public hearing on the future of the statue, and demanding that it be moved.
In part, the letter said:
The Salisbury-Rowan NAACP calls on city officials to make a decision to remove the statue from the center of town as a precaution of safety. We remind you that you were elected to protect the citizens of Salisbury as your sole priority and the threats and unsafe behavior that continues to fester around this statue are both repulsive and divisive.
We demand that the city council hold a public hearing on the removal of the statue to a proper museum or less controversial public space. The Salisbury-Rowan NAACP will be vigilant in the quest to secure the removal of this symbol of hate from the center of our city.