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The Confederate statue will remain on the lawn of the Historic 1909 Courthouse after the county commissioners unanimously voted to keep it there. (Larry Penkava photo)

Randolph County Commissioners vote 5-0 to keep Confederate statue on courthouse lawn

ASHEBORO — By unanimous vote, the Randolph County Board of Commissioners chose to keep the Confederate statue in place, as is, on the grounds of the Historic 1909 Courthouse on Worth Street in Asheboro.

The vote came during the board’s March 7 meeting after another public comment session that saw passionate speeches from both sides of the issue. Last month, both sides had urged the commissioners to make a decision and Chairman Darrell Frye had said a vote would come, but didn’t say when.

In Monday night's meeting, after the public comment period had ended with the 17th speaker, Frye told the standing-room-only crowd that the comments concerning the statue had “gone on for a year. Nothing has changed. The two sides are locked in. We have other issues” to deal with. “The board needs to take a position. We’ve heard enough — just vote.”

Later, Frye said that he had been notified by the Asheboro Police Department the previous Thursday that there could be trouble at the March 7 meeting. So he chose to add the vote on the statue to the agenda, after consulting with the attorney. 

Vice Chair David Allen asked if having the vote violated the board’s procedures, which require that an item must be added to the agenda at least four days before a particular meeting. Ben Morgan, county attorney, said he believed the board had the authority to take action since the issue has been discussed every month for nearly a year.

Commissioner Maxton McDowell made the motion for the “monument to remain where it is and as it is.” Commissioner Kenny Kidd seconded the motion.

Hope Haywood, who called herself the teacher of the board, said she was concerned about preserving the “complete history of Randolph County.” But she said that, despite the unpopularity of the Civil War locally, the young men who fought for the Confederacy “were obedient.” Comparing those soldiers to similar ones serving in Vietnam, Haywood said, “Even if a war is not popular, soldiers should be honored.” She went on to say that with the prospect of a historical museum being developed in the old courthouse, there is the possibility to make the statue “less prominent as the rest of Randolph County’s history comes around it. … Every sacrifice is important, in my book.”

Allen said he didn’t know if taking the vote would settle the issue. He said he was in favor of preserving the statue but was concerned with the ramifications of the vote, particularly with respect to economic development and the possible reception toward the monument of new industries being recruited. Allen also encouraged those of both sides of the issue to use their energies to support other worthy causes.

After harsh words between Kidd and Haywood over some sort of resolution that, apparently, was passed out among the board members but was not brought up in the motion, Frye asked commissioners to vote. All five voted in favor of keeping the statue in place as is.

The Confederate monument was commissioned and erected in front of the courthouse by the United Daughters of the Confederacy after a fund-raising campaign in 1911. The statue was ultimately given to the county.