Committee members that will work on a compromise concerning the Confederate memorial statue that sits on the old Hopkins County Courthouse lawn in downtown Madisonville are still being determined.
According to Hopkins County Judge-Executive, Jack Whitfield Jr., members are still being decided. He said he hopes everything will be finalized soon.
“Almost everybody I’ve heard from has been positive about it,” he said. “That’s encouraging.”
When the committee is formed, Whitfield said the first matters of business will be to decide the design.
The forming of this committee comes from the previous Hopkins County Fiscal Court meeting on Sept. 1 where Whitfield presented a compromise regarding the Confederate memorial that has been the topic of debate on its removal for the past few months.
At that meeting, Whitfield presented a compromise to bring in a Union memorial to counterbalance the Confederate one. This compromise was brought to him by the Madisonville-Hopkins County Historic District along with the NAACP and the African-American Coalition of Hopkins County.
“If you look at some of the historical documents from between 1904 and 1909, the original plan from the fiscal court was to erect two monuments,” Whitfield said at the meeting. “That was with some monetary support from the fiscal court and some private fundraising for the most part to erect these monuments.”
Whitfield said Thursday no design ideas or regulations were found when he searched through historical records.
Bill McReynolds, the president of the African-American Coalition of Hopkins County, said he was asked to be on the committee.
“I was glad to be part of that because again just like anything else, when we can come together to the table and have clear understanding and be respectful of everyone’s ideas and suggestions that is when we will get things accomplished,” he said. “I have not personally had any push back about the compromise. In reality of course you are never going to satisfy everyone, and you can only try to satisfy the majority. It is what it is, and you have to work with the willing to get things done.”
Michael Lowery, a former educator and president of the NAACP of Hopkins County, said he thinks the compromise will not solve the problem.
“That’s just my opinion,” he said. “How could that solve a problem? When the Confederate statue is an insult to African Americans because the statue represents fighting to keep people that look like me as slaves. How could I ever have respect for that? Putting a statue of Ulysses Grant won’t solve the problem. The reason it won’t solve those things because they are moral issues. It’s either right or it’s wrong. I know those are issues that people have really deep seeded feelings about, but if you can’t compromise moral issues though.”
Other proponents of both sides of the debate commended the compromise at the Sept. 1 meeting.
“The monument was put there to remember our ancestors … and to remind us that we don’t want to ever do this again,” said Mitch Ferguson at the Sept. 1 meeting. “This is not talked about enough, but 24,000 African-Americans from Kentucky fought for their freedom on the Union side. I, for one, am in tune to what the judge-executive is saying. The job is not done yet. There needs to be a monument to commemorate those who fought for their freedom. I think that is fair. Maybe it is a little late. It should have been done a long time ago. We need to get along with everybody. We can show the world we don’t need all of this fighting … as long as we keep the doors of communication open.”
Fred Wilhite, the Division Chief of Heritage Operations for the Kentucky Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, thanked the court for the “precedent” the court had set.
At the Sept. 1 meeting, Wilhite said Hopkins County was one of the few counties that was “going to do something that was fair.”