The Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted last Fall to deny the town of Sylva’s request to completely remove the Confederate Statute that sits on the steps leading up to the Jackson County Public Library. While the board voted to not remove the statue, they also voted to cover up the Confederate Flag and the phrase “Heroes of the Confederacy” and replace it with a plaque naming the Jackson County citizens who fought in the Civil War.
Last Fall, Jackson County Commissioner Gayle Woody addressed the board and said that she couldn’t vote to remove the monument as state law prohibits the removal of monuments.
The relevant section of the statute (100-2.1. Protection of monuments, memorials, and works of art) reads: “A monument, memorial, or work of art owned by the State may not be removed, relocated, or altered in any way without the approval of the North Carolina Historical Commission.”
The law further states, in subsection (b): “An object of remembrance located on public property may not be permanently removed and may only be relocated, whether temporarily or permanently, under the circumstances listed in this subsection and subject to the limitations in this subsection. An object of remembrance that is temporarily relocated shall be returned to its original location within 90 days of completion of the project that required its temporary removal. An object of remembrance that is permanently relocated shall be relocated to a site of similar prominence, honor, visibility, availability, and access that are within the boundaries of the jurisdiction from which it was relocated. An object of remembrance may not be relocated to a museum, cemetery, or mausoleum unless it was originally placed at such a location.”
In April, Commissioner Woody, along with Jackson County Commission Chairman Brian McMahan presented the board with a design proposal to cover up the Confederate Flag, and last week, the board voted 4-1 to allocate $14,000 for the project. Jackson County Commissioner Tom Stribling cast the sole dissenting vote.
According to the proposal, dark-colored aluminum will be installed around the front of the existing structure to cover up the original inscription — to comply with current state law. Then, cast bronze plaques would be erected bearing a new inscription.
Commissioners voted to cover up the Confederate Flag last August after members of the community rallied for change, arguing the statute perpetrates racism. The existing statute, which has remained fenced off since the August 4 vote, was first dedicated in September 1915 and then rededicated again in 1996 to serve as a monument honoring all Jackson County Veterans for all wars.
The proposed design changes will redirect the monument’s purpose to serving as a memorial recognizing Jackson County residents who fault in the war, rather than the war itself.