Confederate Controversy in Georgetown: Council approves controversial funding request for local museum
GEORGETOWN, Del. – Georgetown Town Council has approved a controversial funding request for more than $24,000 to pay for repairs at the local historical society’s Marvel Museum, a move that has outraged some residents who argue the organization should receive no public funding unless they take down a confederate flag that flies on the grounds.
Town council approved the funding request submitted by the Georgetown Historical Society on July 25 following two hours of lengthy debate from residents, many of whom expressed grave concerns over the organization’s unwillingness to remove a confederate flag that flies on the grounds outside their Marvel Museum.
The Delaware Grays’ Sons of Confederate Veterans installed the monument where the confederate flag flies outside the museum back in 2007.
For years, local civil rights organizations have called for the flag’s removal and implored elected officials from the state to the local level not to fund the historical society unless they take it down. Joe Lawson with the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice spoke directly to council prior to the vote, imploring councilmembers not to approve the funding request unless the organization removes the flag.
“It can come down, and we will be fine. That’s the issue. Take it down,” Lawson said to council. “We are a good people, we are a good nation, and we should celebrate that goodness, and we can’t celebrate that goodness when we’ve got a flag that represents rape, torture, murder, human misery, the killing of people, and so let’s honor the good in our country, because we got a lot of good, take the flag down.”
47 ABC News Anchor and Investigative Reporter Rob Petree spoke to Councilwoman Angela Townsend who supported the move and in an interview claimed Georgetown residents actually want to see the confederate flag fly.
“I got 35 comments back from residents of town that says we support it, it’s history, regardless of what you think about the flag, its our history,” Councilwoman Townsend said referencing comments she received on her Facebook page.
After hearing from constituents prior to the vote, council still moved to approve the funding request. We asked Councilwoman Townsend, who made the motion to approve the request at the July 25 meeting, if the feelings of black residents in Georgetown mattered.
“Yes, it matters to me,” Councilwoman Townsend said in response. “I am not promoting slavery, or what happened in the past, the only thing I am doing is I’m trying to preserve history so it doesn’t repeat itself.”
Meanwhile, Georgetown Mayor Bill West, who did not vote on the motion, called for unity and said he would like to see the flag taken down.
“I’m totally against it because every time I go to an event or something, I say let’s become number one, meaning let’s come together, work together, and make this town the best it can be,” Mayor West stated. “Now we’ve got separation. We’re not gonna do anything with this going on.”
The issue is not a new one. For years, both state and county governments have denied funding requests from the Georgetown Historical Society over their unwillingness to remove the flag. 47 ABC News reached out to the historical society who declined to comment.
A motion was made to form a committee along with the funding approval that will look at ways to work with the Georgetown Historical Society in the hopes of resolving the issue with the flag once and for all.