Descendants divided on Confederate monument in downtown Wilmington

North Carolina news

George Davis statue in Wilmington (Photo: Nancy Beach via Wikimedia Commons)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – George Rountree III doesn’t see the Confederate statue at the foot of Market Street like most people do.

That’s because the man memorialized in that monument is his great grandfather. Despite calls to have it removed, Rountree believes the George Davis statue should stay put as a reminder of a defining moment in history.

“I do because certainly for old Wilmington, he is a recollection of what things were and if one thinks about it with any degree of care, one knows that how things were cannot exist,” Rountree says.

A recent poll suggests most North Carolinians agree with Rountree—that the statue of Davis and other Confederate monuments should remain in place.

Inez Campbell-Eason, a Wilmington native with family ties to the 1898 massacre, says history should be displayed such as the 1898 Memorial but says memorializing Confederate soldiers is wrong.

“Because they were on the wrong side of history,” said Inez Campbell-Eason. “I mean, you can’t go to Germany with a Nazi flag or you’ll end up in jail. You know– they lost the war. And really, once that war ended, there should have been war criminals. It should have been criminal to even fly the Confederate flag.”

Downtown Wilmington is full of historical placards and monuments honoring historical events and people but it wasn’t until 2008 that one of the city’s darkest, yet most influential times in history, was recognized with the construction of the 1898 Memorial Park. Critics of the memorial say it’s a painful reminder of a very painful past. Campbell-Eason says much of what is memorialized is a reminder of a painful past.

“It’s the same as those bumper stickers that say remember 9-1-1- or 9-11–never forget. I had nothing to do with that either but you expect for us to remember that and be remorseful for what happened. The same with the holocaust. That didn’t even happen in the United States but you would have thought it did,” she says.

Rountree and Campbell-Eason do agree on that thought.

“I mean history has a huge way of reminding people of how evil we can be,” Rountree says.

Rountree is not only the great-grandson of George Davis. He’s also the grandson of one of the white men at the forefront of the 1898 massacre. Like Campbell-Eason, he, too, is a supporter of the 1898 memorial and of Wilmington showcasing more black history.

“I am. It was an event. And I think monuments in memory of black Wilmingtonians who gave of themselves of the last full measure of devotion would be a welcome addition.”

Copyright 2019 WECT. All rights reserved.

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