United Daughters of the Confederacy sign agreement to move ‘Fame’ monument in Salisbury
SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - The United Daughters of the Confederacy have signed an agreement to relocate the ‘Fame” Confederate monument in Salisbury.
City Council previously approved two resolutions on June 16 to move the monument, a statue that has stood in downtown Salisbury for more than 100 years.
Salisbury City Council approved the resolution to declare the statue a public safety hazard, giving the city the power to remove the statue. In a second resolution, council voted to give The United Daughters of Confederacy (UDC) 10 days to sign an agreement and move the statue out of median in downtown Salisbury to the Old Lutheran Cemetery.
Both resolutions were approved unanimously after hours of discussion and public comments.
WBTV previously reported that the “Fame” monument would be moved to the Old Lutheran Cemetery. Established in 1768 by John Lewis Beard, the cemetery is located at 515 N. Lee Street. 175 tombstones for Confederate soldiers were installed at the cemetery in 1996.
The Robert F. Hoke Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a North Carolina unincorporated association, received the Resolution and the Agreement that both the Historic Salisbury Foundation had already signed. Late Sunday night, Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander met with the President of the Robert F. Hoke Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to pick up the signed and notarized signature page, by the President with the permission from the UDC President General.
“The UDC worked diligently worked over Father’s Day weekend, signing the agreement five days prior to the deadline of January 26, 2020. The expressed desire was to bring closure to this decision so that FAME can be safely removed, stored and relocated, as quickly as is feasible to its final location at the Old Lutheran Cemetery on North Lee Street where Confederate Generals, named and unknown Confederate Soldiers are buried,” a statement from the Salisbury Mayor Alexander read.
The original tentative agreement on relocation was apparently reached on June 11 and involved representatives of several groups, including the City of Salisbury.
“The City of #SalisburyNC can confirm tentative discussions between Salisbury City Council and the United Daughters of the Confederacy local chapter to permanently relocate the Fame statue. At this time, no formal agreement has been signed or notarized,” the city of Salisbury tweeted Friday.
Salisbury-Rowan NAACP President Gemale Black told WBTV that is a positive thing for the area.
“This is a step toward the healing for the citizens of Salisbury,” Black said. “It’s a symbol of times we don’t want to go back to, a time we don’t want to relive.”
Black said he was hopeful that the tentative agreement would be approved by council.
The statue has been the site of recent incidents of vandalism and civil unrest. On Sunday, May 31, a man fired two shots in the air after confronting protesters near the base of the statue. That man, Jeffrey Long, was charged with inciting a riot, among other charges.
The next night there was another demonstration near Fame. Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd. One man in the crowd threw a rock through a window of The Salisbury Post/United Way building. Harvey Lee McCorkle, III, was charged with inciting a riot.
In at least two other recent incidents, paint has been thrown on the statue.
Dedicated in 1909 and created by sculptor Frederick W. Ruckstuhl, Fame is a bronze piece that depicts the muse Fame holding a dying Confederate soldier with one arm, and a laurel wreath held high in the other hand.
The pink granite base features inscriptions that say:
-IN MEMORY OF / ROWAN’S / CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS / THAT THEIR HEROIC DEEDS / SUBLIME SELF-SACRIFICE / AND UNDYING DEVOTION / TO DUTY AND COUNTRY / MAY NEVER BE FORGOTTEN / 1861-1865
-THEY GAVE THEIR / LIVES AND THEIR FORTUNES FOR / CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY / AND STATE SOVEREIGNTY / IN OBEDIENCE TO THE TEACHINGS OF THE / FATHERS WHO FRAMED / THE CONSTITUTION / AND ESTABLISHED THE / UNION OF THESE STATES
-SOLDIERS OF THE / CONFEDERACY / FAME HAS GIVEN YOU / AN IMPERISHABLE CROWN / HISTORY WILL RECORD / YOUR DARING VALOR / NOBLE SUFFERINGS AND / MATCHLESS ACHIEVEMENTS / TO THE HONOR AND / GLORY OF OUR LAND
-DEO VINDICE / R.I.P.
There is not yet a timeline on when and how Fame would be relocated.
On Wednesday, Karina Johnson stood across the street from the statue On Innes Street with a Black Lives Matter poster and raising a fist up high as cars went by.
“They did the right thing,” Johnson said.“My opinion is they ought to just move it already.”
Even with a signed agreement, though, the move won’t be immediate. A place has to be set up in the cemetery for the statue and getting the proper equipment in to move the monument will take some time, said one official.
Those who want the statue preserved told WBTV News that if it has to be moved, they want it protected in the new location.
“If they move it, it will be vandalized,” said one man who drove by the cemetery.
The walls are short, there is no gate. There’s only a sign saying “No trespassing after dark.”
Jerry Allman-Thomas walked among the confederate graves at the cemetery on Wednesday and he too believes the statue could become a target there too.
“I’m just afraid it will be destroyed,” Allman-Thomas said.
In any case, city leaders have decided that “Fame” will be moved from where it sits now.
“As Mayor of Salisbury, I have so many unnamed citizen leaders, from both the black and the white community, from diverse political and social points of view, as well as even this issue, differed widely on the right decision to say Thank You. All of these citizens had the quiet faith, the stamina, the tenacity and the heart for doing what is best for our community, now and the future. I will be forever grateful for their quiet and sometimes anonymous contributions in so many ways that have made this day possible. As a woman of Faith, my heart is full of gratitude to God Almighty, that our City Leadership and Citizens have chosen a path of mutual respect and respect for the laws of our State and Nation to find a peaceful and lawful resolution to this long debated issue,” Mayor Alexander wrote.
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