BRANDON, Miss. (WLBT) - A pastor in Brandon went before the Rankin County Board of Supervisors last week to ask that the Confederate statue located in downtown Brandon be moved.
Dr. Ava Harvey, pastor of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, said that he is a lifelong resident of Rankin County and is a graduate of Brandon High School.
Last Monday, Harvey asked the board that the monument be moved from its current location and placed in the Old Brandon Cemetery where he says two former Mississippi governors are buried.
“I’m hopeful that you would agree all symbols have meanings and some meanings can differ from the viewer’s experience in interpretation,” he began. “For instance the cross of Christ can be viewed as an emblem of suffering as well as one of redemption and victory.”
He also said the swastica used by white supremicists is seen by them as a sign of “purity” and “pride” but is seen by Jews as a sign of “genocide” and “death.”
“The Rankin County monument has a derogatory meaning to the vast majority of African-American people within Rankin County,” Harvey stated. “Yes, I do speak on behalf of the African-American people who live in this county as well as the innumerable number who would consider Brandon as their home who have left.”
He said that those who support the monument as one of heritage have the right to hold their view and that understanding history is important. He also said that he does not wish to erase the memory of the thousands of Confederate and Union soldiers who died in the Civil War.
“However,” he said, “it is an historical fact that Mississippi was fighting to continue the hideous practice of enslaving Black people..”
Harvey said that it is “without question” that the Rankin County Confederate monument is a symbol of Mississippi’s succession position and that it identifies with the preservation of the institution of slavery.
He said that he will holding another Unity Rally near the statue on August 21 and asks the leaders and citizens of the county to stand together for the removal of the monument.