Mayor Joines asks United Daughters of the Confederacy to move statue

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Mayor Allen Joines is in discussions with the United Daughters of the Confederacy about finding a new home for the Confederate soldier monument in downtown Winston-Salem.

When a statue of a Confederate soldier was erected in the town of Winston in 1905, it took a position at the northwest corner of the Forsyth County Courthouse. Now, the building has been repurposed by a Richmond, Va.-based developer into an upscale apartment complex, known as 50 West Fourth, near the east end of downtown Winston-Salem’s vaunted Restaurant Row.

The statue itself is controlled by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, although the land underneath it is owned by Clachan Properties. The Charlottesville terror attack — with a white supremacist fatally ramming his car into a crowd of antiracist protesters at rally focused on preservation of a statue honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee — prompted the city of Winston-Salem to explore the possibility of relocating its own Confederate soldier monument.

Mayor Allen Joines said he’s held one conversation with the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

“We both agreed the area it’s in has changed,” Joines said. “It’s no longer a public courthouse; it’s an apartment building in an area that has developed with restaurants. We discussed: Could there be a more appropriate place and not have it be in the forefront of people who are offended?”

Joines said the two parties are looking at a number of potential sites where the statue could be relocated, adding, “Nothing’s been worked out.”

A message left at the United Daughters of the Confederacy national headquarters in Richmond was not returned. Likewise, multiple messages to Clachan, also in Richmond, went unreturned.

The recent events in Charlottesville — with continuous rallies by white supremacists including the Ku Klux Klan, Traditionalist Workers Party and Richard Spencer — have put the United Daughters of the Confederacy in an awkward position.

“The United Daughters of the Confederacy totally denounces any individual or group that promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy,” President General Patricia M. Bryson said in an Aug. 21 statement. “And we call on these people to cease using Confederate symbols for their abhorrent and reprehensible purposes.”

Beyond the fact that the Confederates fought for the cause of maintaining slavery, the Confederate soldier statue in Winston-Salem was erected during a time when multiracial democracy had been defeated and Jim Crow segregation was ascendant.

The Forsyth County chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was chartered in 1898, the same year as the Wilmington coup, which set the stage two years later for the election of Gov. Charles Aycock and the institutionalization of a rigid legal code that disenfranchised blacks and consigned them to inferior housing, education and employment.

An official history of the chapter posted on the web indicates that Katharine Reynolds, the wife tobacco magnate RJ Reynolds, donated $100 towards the cost of erecting the monument.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has called for the removal of all Confederate monuments across the state. The Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a law in 2015 prohibiting cities from removing the monuments without state approval.