Black Community United wants Confederate monument removed

Published 7:53 pm Thursday, July 2, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

About 50 protesters publicly launched the newly formed Black Community United in Columbia on June 26 with a peaceful march from the schoolhouse to the courthouse, where they listened to a series of speakers call for removal of the Confederate monument from public property.

After three or four individuals had spoken, an “open mic” session evolved with one after another speaking extemporaneously against the monument, of the impact past segregation practices had on them individually, and of  several personal accounts of racial discrimination in employment locally.

The Rev. Michael Combs, who supports removal of the statue, told the group that taking down the monument will make no difference. “A change of heart is essential to any lasting change,” he contended. Three other speakers — Mark Mixon, Donald Ray Basnight, and Ricky Sexton — later endorsed his heart-change sentiments.

Sexton, who is white, said removal of the statue would “pain my heart,” and he urged racial unity by turning to Jesus. His urgings to keep the monument in place were met with loud calls to “Take it down now!”

The protesters’ signs appeared to be individually composed and constructed.

The crowd thinned as the two-hour talking continued under a sunny sky in 88-degree temperature.

Several paramedics, a medical ambulance bus from Currituck County, three box ambulances from Currituck, Dare and Washington-Tyrrell EMS, and associated equipment were stationed in the library parking lot less than a block from the courthouse. W-T EMS director Jennifer O’Neil said they expected heat-related incidents more than from any other cause; but the responders were not called on.

Eight or ten state troopers remained on standby in their  patrol cars behind the Providence Mason Lodge Hall a mile west of Columbia until the event was over at about 6 p.m.

In her opening remarks, BCU co-founder Sherryreed Woodley Robinson, a Fort Landing Road resident, said, “Black Community and black unity are all meaningful words that bare a specific meaning to black businesses, black resources, black capital, black community preservation, black education or any other black related issue.”

“This organization represents the black community and its allies,” she continued. “This organization was created to specifically target the black community and its needs. For decades our people lacked the resources to ensure safe housing, medical care, child care, registering to vote, financial security, and so on.”

“At this moment BCU was born out of the pain and emotional turmoil of racism in America,” the founder explained. “We are tired of the consistent hardships placed on the Black Community and its families. These hardships have lasted for generations for some. This has to stop now!”

“The Black Community will never forget our past, but now it our time to come together as one,” Robinson continued. “For movement and improvement! Now it is our time! Time to restore the Black Communities ourselves. It’s time for us to work together as one and put the work in for our people. It’s time to put a stop to our children being hurt by the color of their skin and not for the content of their character. Let’s rise together in unity as one community.”

She ended with this: “We are going to break the chains of things that no longer serve us; that’s including the statue, a statue that no longer serves this community with all its outdated beliefs and stigmatism.”

Robinson reported that the 11 board members of Black Community United are:

Founder: Sherryreed Woodley Robinson

Co-Founder: Adriana Woodley Blakeman

Treasurer: Brenda Respass Wynn

Secretary: Marian Sykes Weeks

Dorothy Spencer

Mike Cole

Varian Holloway

Keyoshia Combs

Tamika Spruill

Cassie Harris

Emily Edwards

The Confederate statue at the Pitt County Courthouse in Greenville was removed last week, and county commissioners in Lenoir County voted unanimously to relocate the Confederate statue there to a Civil War battlefield park in Kinston, WITN reported.