Colored soldiers monument

Perquimans County officials hope to set up a meeting with the owners of the Colored Union Soldiers monument on King Street to discuss moving it to the Perquimans County Courthouse green.

Perquimans County officials hope to meet soon with the owners of the Colored Union Soldiers monument to discuss its possible relocation to the county courthouse property.

Trying to get the monument moved from King Street to the courthouse is one of two recommendations a study group recently made. The group was tasked by county commissioners with coming up with recommendations about what the county should do about the Confederate monument on the courthouse green.

Some citizens have complained about the Confederate monument, saying it should be removed because it’s a remanent of white supremacy and was erected at a time when Black citizens in Hertford were denied both civil and political rights.

County Manager Frank Heath said in his report to county commissioners last week that he is working on setting up a meeting with the church that owns the Colored Union Soldiers monument.

Heath said he will be meeting with Perquimans Board of Commissioners Chairman Wallace Nelson and Vice-Chairwoman Fondella Leigh sometime this month to begin work on the study panel’s second recommendation: coming up with wording for a sign to post near the Confederate monument that will put it in context for its time.

The Board of Commissioners voted Sept. 7 to move forward with erecting an informational sign giving context to the Confederate monument. They also voted to ask the owners of the Black Union Soldiers monument to consider relocating it to the courthouse lawn. Both decisions require additional action by the board in order to be finalized.

The board agreed that Heath and the commission board chairman and vice-chairman would meet to develop the recommended wording for the sign and determine a cost estimate.

Because the Black Union Soldiers monument is located on private property, any decision to move it would require its owner’s permission.

The Sept. 7 motion by Commissioner Kyle Jones clarified that no signs would be placed on the Confederate monument itself but would be on posts in the ground adjacent to the monument.

Jones pointed out the wording for the sign would come back to the board and require a two-thirds majority vote — four of six commissioners — to be approved. Commissioners also would have to agree on the cost before any signage is placed, he said.

The wording is what Heath, Nelson and Leigh are beginning now to work on. Nelson told commissioners last month that he believes the sign’s wording can be positive and provide an opportunity to bring something positive out of a challenging situation.

Noting commissioners will have the final say on the wording, Nelson said the signage might reflect what Black citizens have had to deal with over the years, mention the Black Union Soldiers monument, and note how many county residents died in the Civil War.