I reached out to Nancy Schultz, Commissioner of the 3rd district of Newton Co., earlier today to ask her a few questions about a few different things.
The first thing I asked her about was the budget situation. It's looking for sure that there will be no millage increase, though, as she admitted, there would still be a de facto tax increase based on the increased valuations. She also mentioned something that would make my Dad very happy - it's looking as if, finally, the ambulance millage will be removed from the Newton Co. budget. There's actually a hearing about that tomorrow. So, I guess that's good.
Our conversation then turned to something that's been on the mind of many, and also has been quite the item of discussion of the "word on the street." The Confederate Memorial that is the centerpiece of the Covington Square.
As many now know, a gentleman came before the Newton Co. Board last Tuesday mentioning a desiring to see that monument removed from the Newton County Square. And yes, it's really the Newton Co. Square. The city of Covington is the town seat and while that municipality currently has use and oversight of that piece of real estate, it is that primary political subdivision of Georgia that is Newton Co. that actually owns it.
I didn't beat around the bush. I told her that the word was that there may be three votes on the Board to remove that memorial that the Daughters of the Confederacy had established approx. 100 years ago. The same organization that fought the state of Georgia legislature's attempt to change the state flag to the "battle emblem" back in the 1950s when everybody was upset over voting rights and integration.
She said, referring to any possible imminent vote on this issue, that that was not the case at all - mo vote will be had on this issue for a very long time, if ever.
She did say that she'd had some conversations about it with a few folks. Not really very many, though. Just a handful.
We talked about New Orleans, and of "The Atlantic" piece. And also Richmond, VA., and a few other things.
Then we got into the heart of the matter.
Apparently it's part of the verbiage on the monument that's got at least a few folks worked up.
I stopped her & asked her this:
"What? The inscription on the north side of the monument specifically talks about the need to 'furl the flag' and for the CSA to rejoin the USA - for America to become whole again. What's the issue?"
"No, something about a description of those who took up arms being 'Holy Men.'"
I vaguely remember something about that but I can't specifically recall (I'm definitely going to go to the Square tomorrow morning).
So, apparently, that's the "why," as it were. And removal may not be necessary to correct this, supposedly, but maybe a change to the monument? Or perhaps another marker?
I just think about folks like my Great-Great Grandfather, William M. McCart, who came to Covington right around 1850, and who was a dirt farmer & carpenter, and a man who never owned a slave but because he answered his state's call - the overseeing governmental entity at the time - could, apparently, never be considered a "holy man."
Is that's what's being stated?
And for the record, I didn't go into any of this with Nancy - I was just mainly listening and asking questions...
But she does maybe raise a few points, though.
One thing she mentioned a few times, and this is something that I, in general principle, agree with, is that you've got to be able to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.
I so get that. And I've always strived to do just that very thing.
But what about my shoes? What of I, being a 6th-generation Newtonian? Do my shoes not count? Is there no say for me because of...I don't know...white, male, Southern privilege?
I just don't know.
Nancy also mentioned that labeling is never a good thing and that it is vital for everyone to understand all perspectives.
I'm totally in agreement with both of those sentiments.
She did go on to say that nothing will be decided anytime soon. She wants to reach out to everybody, and not just folks in the 3rd district. We discussed bringing in the Historical Society, and the African-American Historical Society. Possibly talking to the Mayors of the five municipalities, talking to all of the Board members of Newton Co. and its Staff. Possibly holding a couple of public forums.
It all sounds very prudent to me.
And it was, as it usually is, a pleasure talking to the esteemed Gentlewoman who represents the 3rd district of Newton Co.
That's all for now. 'Til next time.
- M.B. McCart