Harrison County commission members hear Stonewall Jackson statue debate

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Harrison County commissioners heard more public comment, including a presentation from Jim Griffin, chairman of the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival regarding the Stonewall Jackson statue in the courthouse lawn Wednesday.

“The Board of Directors of the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival and the African-American citizens of Harrison County firmly believe Confederate monuments do not belong in any public space in the state of West Virginia,” Griffin said.

One week ago commissioners heard from more than 50 members of public, Wednesday thirty people attended in-person or via Zoom and about five members of the public offered comment.

Faith Dickson is a life-long resident of Harrison County and told commissioners she has always questioned why the statue was placed in the lawn of the courthouse.

“I questioned there was a statue of a Confederate soldier on the front of a courthouse in a Union state, I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now” Dickson said,”The soldiers in his army shot and killed the soldiers in the army of the United States of America.”

President of the Clarksburg History Museum, Michael Spatafore offered three possible locations for the statue, one at the Museum and two other locations in downtown Clarksburg.

“I don’t know if you’re having another vote today or not, but whether you vote today or have another at another time,” Spatafore said,”We at the Clarksburg History Museum Committee would like to be involved in making this work for everybody.”

During the June 17 meeting, commissioner David Hinkle made a motion to have the statue returned to the Daughters of the Confederacy. Commission president Ron Watson seconded the motion but it failed in a 2-1 vote with Hinkle the only “yes.”

The Daughters of the Confederacy erected the statue in the early 1950s. It along with statues of Confederate figures have come under fire in recent weeks following days of protests for social justice.

Black Heritage Festival board member Angelica Scott told commissioners when the statue was erected the police in Harrison County was “separate but equal,” but she says there was no equality for people of color. Scott says that makes walking by the statue even more offensive.

“We are well aware that the relocation of this monument will not erase this country’s long history of slavery,” Scott said,” However, it sends a message that the deplorable history of our county, of our country and state is neither condoned or respected.”

No motions were made by commissioners following the presentation.

June 17 the commission voted 2-1 to keep the statue at the courthouse, David Hinkle was the lone vote to move it.