Delaware NAACP condemns Town of Georgetown for pushing ahead with funding museum where confederate flag flies

GEORGETOWN, Del. – The Central Delaware NAACP is speaking out, condemning a recent decision by the Georgetown Town Council to push ahead with funding a local museum where the confederate flag flies.

The latest condemnation comes after a check for more than $24,000 was delivered to the Georgetown Historical Society, who owns and operates the Marvel Museum, despite calls from the Mayor and the Town Solicitor not to fund the organization.

A check that was to be delivered earlier this week to the organization was voided by Mayor Bill West after learning that no formal committee process was established prior to the vote that approved the funding, which could open the door to a potential lawsuit. Three council members, Angela Townsend, Sue Barlow, and Penuel Barrett pushed ahead with that funding, delivering a new check to the historical society on Thursday.

Fleur McKendell, president of the Central Delaware NAACP, vehemently condemned the decision by council and spoke out against those who seek to fund an organization that flies the confederate flag with no regard for the concerns of those who are hurt by it.

“I am truly saddened and dismayed at just the conduct of the town council and their decision to move forward with the issuance of that check considering, not just the public outcry about the meaning, and the torture, and the pain that’s associated with the confederate flag, but more importantly their own ordinance, or the process within the ordinance was not followed,” McKendell told 47 ABC’s Rob Petree. “To me, it just screams municipal corruption.”

An ordinance from 2007 specifically states that when it comes to G.R.E.A.T. funding, which is where the $24,750 to the Georgetown Historical Society is being allocated from, the Georgetown Town Council must establish a committee to review such funding prior to approving it and that committee may then recommend the funding be put forth for a vote on council. No such committee process was formed prior to the vote at the council meeting on July 25, 2022.

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       G.R.E.A.T.  fund charter document, Town of Georgetown 2007

Along with approving the funding, it was also agreed upon by council that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would be signed to ensure a committee would be formed to help resolve the issue, and come up with a more culturally sensitive place for it to be placed in an effort to resolve the issue moving forward. That was all but squashed after the Georgetown Historical Society issued a statement last week stating that they stand by the Delaware Grays’ Sons of Confederate Veterans and had no intention of taking down the confederate flag.

“The GHS intends to keep its word to SCV, particularly on the choice of flags to adorn the Memorial, and call on all citizens of good character and good faith to commit to the environment of unity, pluralism, and tolerance demonstrated at the unveiling on May 12, 2007, allowing those who chose to honor their dead to do so with respect for their election, all in furtherance of the advancement of education and history that defines the noble object of GHS.”

That statement was ultimately what led Mayor West to void the check that he was supposed to deliver to the society earlier this week where that MOU was to be signed.

McKendell has called for a complete audit of the Town of Georgetown, and called out one of the council members, Sue Barlow, who is allegedly a longtime member of the Georgetown Historical Society.

“It screams, ‘hey, we need to be audited’ our practices, and our structures need to be audited,” McKendell emphasized. “I will go on record for saying that we are going to be pursuing that because it is clear that there is, there seems to be some type of a personal alignment here, or a personal investment. I do understand, from what I’ve been told, Sue Barlow is a lifetime member of the Georgetown Historical Society, so there may be some ties there. I’m not sure what that’s all about but we do need to get to the bottom of it because at the end of the day those folks were elected by the people, for the people, and right now what they’re doing is not upholding the best interest for the people at large that they were elected to represent.”

47 ABC’s Rob Petree reached out to Councilwoman Barlow and is awaiting a response.

Following the approval of the funding last month, we spoke with Councilwoman Angela Townsend, who made the motion to approve the funding at last month’s meeting. We asked if the feelings of black residents in Georgetown mattered to her, to which she replied:

“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.”

McKendell was quick to fire back at that notion and said what Councilwoman Townsend is actually doing is “whitewashing history.”

“She’s calling it preserving history, but what it’s actually doing is whitewashing history,” McKendell said emphatically. “I will say to Ms. Townsend’s comment about preserving history, those 13 stars on that confederate flag, none of them are representative of Delaware.”

Both the Central Delaware NAACP and the Southern Alliance for Racial Justice have stated they are exploring potential lawsuits as it relates to the Town of Georgetown’s handling of approving the more than $24,000 in funding for the historical society.

“We are going to be working with, not only the Delaware branches, but the national NAACP, to make a statement,” McKendell stated. “The council members of Georgetown, they need to be made famous, I think they need to be put on public display the way that the flag that they’re supporting is on public display.”

Multiple calls to Georgetown Historical Society President Jim Bowden have went unanswered.

This is a developing story and 47 ABC News will release more information as it becomes available. 

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Local Politics