ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (WAVY) — A newly-created task force designed to make recommendations on the future of Isle of Wight’s Confederate monument — whether it should be moved or simply contextualized — has already faced challenges.
Task force member Albert Burckard was removed from his position on the task force unanimously by the Board of Supervisors Thursday night in response to an email he wrote to a fellow member Oct. 7.
In the email in question, Burckard said he was “disappointed” in some fellow members’ arguments that the monument “offended them or their feelings.”
“All three are trying to make this just a racial issue, which it is not. It is about respecting the history of others,” Burckard wrote. “I wanted to say to all of the black men, ‘stop your whining’ and ‘man up’ and stop pretending you’re a ‘victim’ of a 115-year-old piece of granite!”
Burckard was originally appointed to the task force to represent the Isle of Wight County Historical Society.
“The Board of Supervisors feels that the contents within this email would jeopardize the ability of the task force to continue its mission and fulfill its responsibilities to give good feedback and information and good options to this board,” Chairman Joel C. Acree said ahead of the vote.
Isle of Wight’s Confederate monument has stood in front of the county courthouse complex since 1905 — at the height of the “Lost Cause” movement.
Since the death of George Floyd in May — a Black man killed while in the custody of Minneapolis police — there has been a renewed push across the county for racial justice. In the South and Hampton Roads localities, that’s included a push to remove or relocate Confederate monuments.
Black Americans in particular have labeled monuments to the “Confederate dead” as symbols of oppression. Many those in support of keeping the monument where it is have argued they are truly meant to “honor the dead,” and have no racist intent.
The Board of Supervisors held a closed session before unanimously voting for Burckard’s removal. He will be replaced by Joan Jones, a member of the Isle of Wight Avengers, a group dedicated to preserving southern heritage.
After the meeting, Isle of Wight Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson forwarded Burckard’s email to WAVY-TV.
You did very well tonight! Thanks for being our “point man.” I’m somewhat constrained because I have to represent the IWCHS [Isle of Wight County Historical Society].
I was really disappointed in the responses of Derek, Raymond and Littleton. Their entire argument against the Memorial was only that it “offended” them or their feelings were hurt by the sight of it. Derek is a shouter and Littleton is a filibusterer. All three are trying to make this just a racial issue, which it is not. It is about respecting the history of others.
Becky Mercer, as much as I really love her for being crucial in helping my son graduate, is a typical white “government” school person full of the usual platitudes of the left.
I wanted to say to all of the black men, “stop your whining” and “man up” and stop pretending you’re a “victim” of a 115 year old piece of granite! I might make this little speech at our next meeting.
The two hours this evening were spent almost exclusively on moving the monument. Our next meeting must focus on our second task of “contextualization in place.”
The eight-member force is diverse — made up of five white members and three Black members.
“They voted to remove me?” Burckard said upon being reached by a WAVY-TV reporter after the vote. He said he hadn’t yet been formally informed.
Burckard, who was one of eight members of the task force that was formed after a vote by supervisors in September, didn’t deny writing the email and said he stands by what he said.
“No I don’t regret it,” Burckard said. “People need to be upset that there is a movement in this country to destroy history. People should be upset about it.”
Burckard spoke in support of keeping the monument where it is during the public hearing on its possible relocation on Sept. 3. More than 150 public comments were submitted, far outnumbering public comments on other Confederate monument issues in other localities.
Rather than making a decision — as many other localities in the area have recently done with their respective monuments — supervisors opted to appoint the task force.
The task force is supposed to submit its findings and recommendations — such as potential sites for relocation as well as ways it could be contextualized at its current location — to the Board of Supervisors by Dec. 1 this year.
The task force members include:
- Derek Boone
- Rebecca Mercer
- Herb De Groft
- Maggie Richards
- Volpe Boykin
- Ray Gibbs
- The Rev. Dr. Lilton Marks
- (Newly-appointed) Joan Jones
BELOW: Watch the full Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday night.
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