by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
After months of controversy, protests and discussion about southern history, confederate monuments and the appropriate way to remember our history and learn from the past, I was touched by a recent news report out of Clinton. Instead of destroying and eliminating confederate monuments we need more monuments, more memorials and more telling of our stories. That’s what the good folks in Clinton are doing.
The Sampson Independent reports:
There is a small plot of land nestled under some large trees at the old Clinton Cemetery where 50 African-American slaves — possibly more — are buried. A local advisory group, together with the City of Clinton, wants to ensure that visitors know about those graves and the slaves who have their final resting place there. Tim Butler, a member of the City of Clinton’s Cemetery Advisory Board, spoke to the issue during a recent City Council meeting. He, along with fellow advisory board members Whit Tart, Anthony Worley and Jeremy Edgerton, all in attendance, petitioned the City Council for the construction and installation of a monument.
Butler mentioned three proposals for a permanent identification marker. They were from Spell Monument, in the amount of $3,989; N.C. Marble and Granite, in the amount of $2,782; and Classic Monument Company, $2,550. Clinton Mayor Lew Starling called for a vote, and the Council unanimously approved the purchase of a marker for the area, however, a specific bid wasn’t noted. He said it was a worthwhile endeavor. “This is a wonderful cause,” said Starling, “and we will find the money.”
I agree with Mayor Starling. This is a wonderful cause. And I applaud him and the Clinton City Council for the commitment to find the money. But I think too often we look to government and taxpayer money to take of wonderful causes. We miss an opportunity to embrace responsibility and do it ourselves. In the end, it’s up to us.
As a follow-up to the news report, the editors of the Sampson Independent wrote:
Those 50 or more slaves laid to rest in Springvale are a part of our heritage and our history, and a marker erected at the site of their burial ground would show them the respect they wholeheartedly deserve. It will also, as Butler told Council members, identify the burial ground as being the final resting place for African-American slaves, ensuring the area won’t be disturbed again. And, just as importantly it will give those who visit the cemetery a point of recognition that has not been there before.
Like I said, we need more monuments and memorials, not fewer. And its up to us to do it. That’s why I called Mayor Starling and learned that they would accept donations for this wonderful cause. I mentioned this on NC Spin this week and on my weekly WTSB interview with Carl Lamm. I promised to share the information with viewers, listeners and friends. Let’s help Clinton find the money.
You can send a check made out to “Cemetery Fund” to:
Mayor Lew Starling
Clinton City Hall
Clinton, NC 28328
I sent mine today.