We, citizens of Lee County, firmly believe that it is time to relocate the Confederate Monument at the Lee County Courthouse in Tupelo, Mississippi.
This monument, erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1906, was placed on Tupelo’s Main Street to honor the Confederate dead, who, according to an inscription on the east side of the monument, fought for “liberty or death.” In 1936, it was moved to the Lee County Courthouse due to traffic flow issues. It’s time to move it again, but for reasons that are much more dire than traffic problems.
This monument claims to honor men who fought for liberty, but whose liberty were they fighting for? Certainly not their brothers and sisters, enslaved and dehumanized, who lived and breathed and worked next to them. Their liberty was not even worthy of a mention.
Relocating the monument would shine a light on our history, counteracting the dangerous mythology of the “Lost Cause” with the truth that these men did not die for liberty. The cause that they lost was putting greed over humanity. And thank God they lost this cause, for where would we be if they hadn’t?
To our neighbors who worry that relocating this monument would somehow remove our history, please understand that this is not the case. Relocating the monument does not remove our history; it puts our history in its place. If the monument’s goal is to honor those who lost their lives, then let’s erect it where so many fallen soldiers died years ago. More appropriate possibilities include the Tupelo Battlefield or Brice’s Cross Roads National Battlefield.
We respectfully demand that the Lee County Board of Supervisors relocate the Confederate monument to a location that is appropriate for its historical perspective. It is time that we Mississippians, of all races, religions, and creeds, reclaim our courthouse to be a place where we can pay our taxes, air our grievances, and exert our American freedoms to pursue happiness without prominently-displayed symbols that push a romanticized, dangerous narrative of the darkest days of our state’s history.
Leah Davis & Amber Nichols-Buckley