The county’s oldest Confederate memorial – Halifax is tied for third most in the state with six – rests at the intersection of Maple Street and East 9th Street in Weldon.
In 1908 the Junius Daniel Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected this 27-foot tall Confederate soldier statue “in memory of the Confederate soldiers and sailors of Halifax and Northampton counties.”
The dedication was attended by 3,000 people, including longtime Weldon Mayor Thomas Emry, a Confederate veteran who helped establish the city of Roanoke Rapids and is the namesake of Emry Park.
He was present at the Battle of Fort Sumter, the first skirmish of the Civil War.
In his remarks as guest speaker, Colonel Robert E. Lee Jr., a grandson of General Robert E. Lee, stated, “Let it never again be said that he fought for what he believed to be right, but that the Confederate soldier fought for what he knew to be right.”
What did the Confederate soldier fight for?
- The permission to import “negroes of the African race” from only other slaveholding states and United States territories.
- The protection of the “institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States.”
- A slave owner’s right to travel through the Confederate States of America with their slaves would “not be thereby impaired.”
- No “law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”
- These words are from the CSA Constitution, a document explicitly stating enslavement of “negroes of the African race,” not White indentured servitude.
What did the Confederate soldier know to be right?
The foundations of his new government, explained in the Cornerstone Speech by CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens.
“Its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition. This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”
How do elected representatives in a town that’s over 70 percent Black allow a statue in the memory of men who fought for those sentiments remain on a public street?
Why pledge allegiance to the United States during a meeting but let a reminder of allegiance to the Confederate States stay there?
Hold a vote to relocate the statue to where it belongs: Weldon’s Confederate cemetery.
The county commissioners appropriated $150 towards the statue’s construction in 1908 ($4,180 today).
Perhaps they’ll help with the costs.
Rodney D. Pierce
2019 NC Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year
Teacher Fellow, NC Equity Fellowship