07 July 2015
County asks residents for name suggestionsA tiny park in Palmyra, home to a memorial honoring the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War, is suddenly rather nameless now that its unofficial title, Confederate Park, has been called into question.
After a white gunman shot and killed nine black people in a historic church in South Carolina on June 17, the fallout swept over the South as some began to call for the removal of Confederate flags and symbols.
Fluvanna County is no exception, as the first meeting of the Board of Supervisors since the massacre, held on Wednesday afternoon (July 1), had on its agenda a close look at the county’s so-called Confederate Park.
Over a year ago new signage went up in many of the county’s spots of interest. At that time, said County Administrator Steve Nichols, staff considered what name to put on the park’s sign. They couldn’t find any records of a formal naming process, Nichols said, but had heard the park colloquially referred to as Confederate Park. When they asked the Fluvanna Historical Society what name to put on the sign, Nichols said, it recommended Confederate Park.
Chairperson Mozell Booker, who put the issue onto the Board’s agenda, began the discussion, which remained polite and respectful throughout, by clarifying that supervisors were not looking to change the park itself. “At no time are we thinking about doing anything to the park,” she said. “We’re not thinking about moving anything… The monument that we have there, the Confederate monument, is a part of our history. It’s Fluvanna’s history, it’s my history, and that’s something that we’re not looking to change.”
“Now what I in particular, speaking for myself, want [is] to repurpose the park,” she continued. “When we were doing the signage in the county about a year or so [ago] the park was named the Confederate Park. That’s the only thing in the park, so it’s pretty natural that the signage would say Confederate Park. Since then I’ve been thinking about repurposing it so that we could have other monuments in the park. We could have a monument for our veterans of foreign war, [etc.]… It would be a park that would be inviting to everyone.”
For example, Booker said, the Emancipation Proclamation is now more than 150 years old. She has had conversations, she said, about having a monument at the park in honor of the Emancipation Proclamation. “It would be very appropriate in my own opinion if we could repurpose the park…[if] we could put some other monuments there,” she said.
“Is this the right time?” she asked rhetorically, considering the dialogue sweeping the South. “It’s always the right time to talk about Fluvanna County. I know it’s a lot about the Confederate flag and all that, and we understand – we’re mature adults. This is just as good a time as any other… I think it’s a good time for us to put the discussion out there and then we can have the citizens give us their input.”
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