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Victory in Charles Town

December 12, 2018

The Make It Right (MIR) Project congratulates the anti-racist West Virginia activists whose tireless and dedicated protest brought down a Confederate plaque from the Jefferson County Courthouse. MIR has been honored to support and highlight their activism in recent months, and today we’re ecstatic to applaud their success.

The campaign to take down the Charles Town Confederate plaque began a little over a year ago, when six women—Linda Ballard, Janet Baylor, Sylvia Gregory, Gloria Lindsey, Verdeana Lindsey and Brenda McCray—penned a letter to local Commissioners asking that the marker be removed “without fanfare.” That missive was met with unexpectedly aggressive pushback by defenders of the plaque and other neo-Confederates, who went so far as to accuse the women of representing a “radical minority… creating harmful division and discord among our people and threatening to destroy our country.” Not long after they launched the fight to take down the plaque, members of West Virginia’s Women’s March, including captains Susan Pipes and Sara Thomsen, joined the effort.

Among the most notable facts about the Jefferson County Confederate plaque is the date of its placement—the local chapter of United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) put up the marker in 1986. Ironically, the current courthouse building was constructed to replace the original edifice, which was badly damaged by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.

In October, the Make It Right Project began working in collaboration with and support of the Charles Town activists to remove the plaque, providing signage and other resources. The Heyward Shepherd marker, an overtly pro-slavery monument put up by the UDC in 1931 in Harpers Ferry, is located just a few miles from the courthouse.

On December 6, the Jefferson County Commission voted 3-2 to remove the Confederate plaque from the courthouse. The marker was then quietly removed overnight. The pictures below are celebratory shots featuring WV Women’s March activists Sherri Harris, Susan Pipes and Sammi Brown, who was recently sworn in as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Below, you can check out video of the City Council vote that yielded this fantastic and much-deserved triumph. We congratulate the hard-working team that made this happen. It’s all the more proof that the fight must continue!

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