Delaware NAACP joins calls for Georgetown Councilwoman to step down over confederate flag controversy
GEORGETOWN, Del. – The Central Delaware NAACP is now joining calls for Georgetown Councilwoman Sue Barlow to step down, citing a conflict of interest concerning her vote to approve funding for a local museum that flies the confederate flag.
Fleur McKendell, president of the Central Delaware NAACP, is speaking out, calling on Councilwoman Barlow to step down after she supported funding more than $24,000 for the Marvel Museum and voted to approve it despite being a lifetime member of the Georgetown Historical Society which runs it.
“I do believe she needs to step down for a myriad of reasons,” McKendell explained in an interview Thursday with News Anchor & Reporter Rob Petree. “Voting on the issue to issue the funds to the Georgetown Historical museum when she has openly admitted to the press that she is a lifelong member of the Georgetown Historical Society is unarguably, it’s a conflict.”
The latest call for Councilwoman Barlow to step down comes just a day after the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice did the same, and Georgetown’s Mayor Bill West also spoke out earlier this week and called for Barlow to step aside, expressing grave concerns over the state of her health following Monday night’s contentious council meeting.
“She should have recused herself,” McKendell said emphatically. “I am in agreement in standing in solidarity with the Mayor and the other civil rights organizations that are making that call.”
McKendell spoke passionately at Monday night’s council meeting that saw several concerned citizens and NAACP members turn out to express their displeasure with the council’s decision to fund the museum.
After the meeting wrapped up, McKendell tells us Councilwoman Barlow approached her and another NAACP member and reportedly said that she had watched the movie “12 Years a Slave” and therefore she knew what black people have been through and that she’s not racist.
“After the meeting, Councilwoman Townsend and Barlow stayed after and Councilwoman Barlow walked up to one of my members who was standing right next to me at the branch, the Central Delaware NAACP branch, and said to her, ‘ya know I watched 12 years a slave, I know what you all went through, I’m not racist,'” McKendell stated. “She said that in front of my face to one of my members, and so that again that really shows that collectively as a council there’s some serious issues there when it comes to race, being accountable, and when it comes to some of the rhetoric that they’ve spewed by that council collectively.”
McKendell also called out Councilwoman Angela Townsend, who made the initial motion to approve the funding and has been a vocal supporter of the confederate flag. She said she believes she has racist views following her most recent comments at Monday night’s council meeting.
“I totally believe that Councilwoman Angela Townsend has racist views,” McKendell said. “I believe that the comments that she made at previous meetings, but specifically this last meeting on Monday, August 22nd, was outlandish and it really showed just how culturally irresponsible and out-of-touch she really is with her constituents and with the community, particularly the comment she made about not being black and not understanding what people went through.”
Councilwoman Townsend defended her decision to fund the museum during the council meeting on Monday.
“Everyone is being offended by something, and a lot of things offend me, but I put up with it and I deal with it, I said how many people are against the Vietnam War, is that memorial going to come down next?,” Councilwoman Townsend stated. “I’m not black, so I don’t know, I’m not in your position, and ya know, I didn’t do it to be mean, I voted because to me it was the right thing to do for the marvel museum to make improvements to the property.”
The condemnation comes after a check for more than $24,000 was delivered to the Georgetown Historical Society, who owns and operates the Marvel Museum, where a confederate flag flies at a monument honoring soldiers who fought in the confederacy during the Civil War.
A check that was to be delivered to the organization was voided by Georgetown 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 earlier this month.
Mayor West also called out Councilwoman Townsend, in an interview on Tuesday he told our news department that her recent remarks have led some people to think she’s “very racist.”
“Angie needs to think before she speaks because a lot of her language is leading people to think that she is very racist,” Mayor West stated. “The comments she makes, and her husband made in public comment, shows that they’ve got some feelings of white power, and it’s not gonna happen here in Georgetown, I’m not gonna let it happen.”
Following the approval of the funding last month, we spoke with Councilwoman Angela Townsend, who we asked if the feelings of black residents in Georgetown mattered to her, to which she replied: “Yes, it matters to me,” she 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.”
Mayor Bill West has been a vocal critic of funding the museum over the confederate flag and the process in which that funding was approved. He called out Councilwoman Barlow directly at Monday night’s meeting as she was reportedly on council in 2007 when that motion to form such a committee for that type of funding was adopted.
“If we should be mad at anybody, it should be Sue,” Mayor West stated. “She was on council when this ordinance was passed.”
Councilwoman Barlow responded to Mayor West, citing her age and her assumption that town leadership had read and knew of the ordinance.
“I just want to defend myself Bill,” Councilwoman Barlow said. “That ordinance that you’re talking about was passed in 2008 [actually passed in 2007] I was on the council at the time, but ya know that’s a long time ago and I am 78 years old, so I don’t have a really good memory and I assumed that the Town Manager and the Town Solicitor had read the ordinance and knew what it said.”
The ordinance they’re referring to is from 2007 and specifically states that when it comes to G.R.E.A.T. funding, which is where the $24,750 to the Georgetown Historical Society was 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 to approve the funding at the council meeting on July 25, 2022.
Numerous attempts by 47 ABC to reach both Councilwoman Townsend and Councilwoman Barlow have been ignored. In fact, we left voicemails for both councilwomen Thursday afternoon and have not heard back.
There have also been grave concerns in the town over the potential of a lawsuit following the way the funding was approved, a concern Mayor West expressed during Monday night’s meeting.
Both the Central Delaware NAACP and the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice have stated they are exploring potential lawsuits as it relates to the Town of Georgetown’s handling of approving the funding. No official litigation has been filed at this time.
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.