Petitioners discuss Confederate statue

Chalice Keith/ The News

Story by Paige Effinger, Contributing writer

Progressives in the region started a discussion on the West Kentucky Progressive Connection Facebook page about the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in downtown Murray.

The post stirred discussions, receiving 42 comments, 51 likes and 21 shares.

The statue has been erect in the downtown court square since the early 1900s, but some Calloway County residents believe it represents the outdated values of the old south.

Shelly Baskin, the group organizer for the Murray Confederate petition, said the West Kentucky Progressive Connection Facebook page was created for progressives in the region, and it was utilized to promote and organize the petition. Although, she said the  organization of the petition is not led by the Kentucky Progressive Connection.

Residents are free to start a countermovement, according to the Facebook post, but the discussion is not “Should we do this?” but  “How do we do this?”

Baskin said the group is still discussing and exploring different options for addressing the monument, like alteration, transfer or destruction.  

“A 17 foot tall monument, built during Jim Crow and topped by the leader of the Confederate armies, is a clear symbol of the institutions of slavery and legislated white supremacy that formed the backbone of the secessionist movement.”

If it were to be removed, she said it would not cure racism or fix the effects of centuries of white supremacy, but it would be the first step toward progression.

“The presences of such a monument on the courthouse grounds implies a community wide endorsement of what it represents,” Baskin said.

Last Wednesday, Sept. 13, an event was held at the Bailey Pavilion by members of the petition group to discuss options for the Confederate statue, like alteration, transfer or destruction.

A formal petition has not been started, and Baskin said they are in the process of developing a petition which addresses their preferred outcome and reasons for removal.
“When we present our plan to the community, we want it to to be thoughtful and actionable,” Baskin said.

Removing the statue is just one step they can take toward racial reconciliation, Baskin said.

However, there are others who prefer to keep the statue such as Murray State student Kristyn Morse.

Morse,  junior political science major from Eureka, Missouri, is a member of the College of Republicans and previously worked as intern on campaigns for Republican candidates such as Rand Paul. Morse said these statues are a piece of history, and this message is what the Republican party is trying to fight for.

Morse said she had ancestors fight in the Civil War, and statutes like Robert E. Lee remind her of how far the world has come and changed since that time.

“If it is taken away the future generations won’t be able to understand the historical value of it, and it’s something that everyone should learn about,” Morse said.

Morse said we should be proud of how far the United States has come since the Civil War.

“We should look at these statues and remind ourselves of all we went through to create the America we have today,” she said.