‘History is not a one stop shop but a progressive story’
I read the story in the Saturday paper where my friend Ron Ellis is quoted as being in favor of removal of the Thomas Jefferson Statue in Warder Park. I respect his opinion but I disagree.
Before I became a lawyer I had a career as a public school teacher who taught U.S. History in Florida and at Jeffersonville High School. We as a country need to step back and take a deep breath. The story of our great country has chapters that are not very pretty. History is not a one stop shop but a progressive story where we go on and do better. It is like each of us a combination of good and bad. Each of us in growing up has made foolish mistakes that we regret. That does not diminish who we are today and errors in growing up should not be assessed against us as adults.
Thomas Jefferson was a hero to the nation and to the liberty we have achieved. He was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and was one of the individuals who set up the framework of our nation that we use today. When our city on the banks of the Ohio was being created he was the President of the United States. We named our city for him. He sent the city a copy of his plan for an urban development which we failed to use, but nonetheless he did favor us in our Indiana development with ideas that have merit.
My friend Greg Read and I decided to practice law together in 1986 and purchased a condemned building on Court Avenue. We named it for Thomas Jefferson. We could have created some name but Greg and I were proud of being citizens of Jeffersonville and wished to honor the namesake of the city.
2020 is far different than 1803. Women have the right to vote and we no longer own other individuals. I object to dishonoring Jefferson as a topic of current 2020 race relations. Like each of us as we mature and grow older we learn from the mistakes of our past. We are evolving as a nation. I have always had African American friends and classmates since my first day of first grade. One of my best friends (Cary Dyson) lived next door to my aunt and uncle and was African American. We graduated from Jeff High together and were social friends until his death.
We cannot change history. We learn from it. We keep it in our background and use the good and avoid the bad in the future.
John R. Vissing, Jeffersonville
Racially biased posts by officers should not be tolerated
It was recently reported that a Clarksville police officer made racially biased remarks on social media. I believe the county council and the police officials should amend the police employee handbook to allow for disciplinary action against officers who use hate speech on social media or other public venues. This is a policy adopted by many other police forces in the U.S. already.
Furthermore, county officials should investigate the officer that made these remarks and review his arrest records and any complaint records in order to assess whether his racist views have been reflected in his policing practices. Has he been racially profiling? Arresting a disproportionate number of Black people? Has he complaints made against him by people of color?
Finally, any other officers that “liked” or commented on the original officer’s social media post should be similarly investigated, and the county should issue a strongly worded statement that such views go against their principles and will not be tolerated.
Megan McCarthy, Clarksville
If the city of Jeffersonville were to be renamed, consider...
I just read the article about the statue. I live in Greenville, and I certainly hope and pray that anyone named Green never owned any slaves. We do not have any Green statues here, but it could happen in the future. But the controversy has put me to thinking about the plight of Jeffersonville.
Now, if the statue has to come down, what will be next? You certainly can’t have a city named for a man who owned other people and raped wives and daughters. So what will the city fathers come up with for a new name? Maybe they could just call it “THE PLACE ACROSS THE RIVER FROM LOUISVILLE.” Or maybe Clarksville could just annex the area. But wait! Did George Rogers Clark ever own anyone? Let’s be careful there.
I really am glad I don’t live there, and have to deal with such a plight. But I certainly will respect whatever the final name happens to be as I pass through.
Terry D. Boaz, Greenville