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LOU community must stand against violence over Confederate statue debate

Watching events around the country as the debate rages on about whether Confederate statues and monuments should be taken down, I cringed knowing it was just a matter of time before the fight came to Oxford.

Being born and raised in the North, I often feel like an outsider over issues like the statues or state flag. I have my opinions of course, but I hesitate to express them. I am not black. I am not a true Southerner. I can see validity to both sides of the discussion. I’m just glad I’m not one of the people who may have to make that difficult decision.

Or should I be? Should we all be?

Mississippi and Oxford have been my home for 10 years now and it’s truly the gem of the state where, for the most part, people live together in peace. Demonstrations and protests since I’ve lived her, no matter the issue, were handled well and there’s been no violence.

I hope it stays that way.

Last week, the University of Mississippi English Department sent a petition to Chancellor Jeff Vitter requesting the Confederate statute on campus to be relocated.

Tuesday, a discussion about Confederate statues is on the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors’ agenda for their 5 p.m. meeting.

It’s here and it won’t be going away anytime soon. What happens moving forward is up to all of us.

I believe the LOU community is capable of bringing people to the table to have open discussions about our statues and memorials and make decisions that allow both sides input in an intelligent and peaceful manner. No matter your views on whether the statues should stay or be relocated, everyone needs to realize and agree that promoting violence will not, and cannot, be the answer.

Neither side can allow this community to be torn apart over cement.

Let’s form a committee of people from both sides. We need a grassroots effort, born from the people who love this town, to show the rest of the world how it should be done – how it can be done.

We listen. We listen to each other’s views. We try to see things from someone else’s perspective. We disagree but with respect.

There is a way to come together. I don’t know what that is yet, but I know it’s there. Perhaps instead of removing, we build another statue next to it, honoring someone who worked with the Underground Railroad to free the slaves. Maybe the statues can be moved to the Confederate Cemetery on campus.

I know there are people in this great community who can lead this fight – not the fight to tear something down or keep it up – but the fight to keep the fight away from Oxford and take on this important and historical decision in a way that will keep the peace.

Sure, no matter the decision, one side will be very unhappy. But if we come together as one voice that no matter what that decision is, the Oxford, Lafayette County and University of Mississippi community will not stand for one person being hurt or having our public property vandalized, we can stop those who would wish to bring harm to our home and send a message that violence will not be tolerated on our streets.