CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said they are planning to ask Hamilton County Commissioners to remove the statue of a confederate general that’s currently sitting outside the courthouse.
Gloria Sweet Love, president of the Tennessee NAACP, said members will be in Hamilton County next week to ask commissioners to remove the statue. She told WTVC if they don’t comply, they will take more action because “it’s time for these to come down.”
Hamilton County Commission Chairman Chester Bankston said the statue “is not coming down.” Commissioner Tim Boyd agreed, saying the statue represents valor, not a symbol of slavery. He says the country has come a long way in the last 50 years.
“I don’t mind talking to them about it, as long as they’re willing to hear my position. I don’t want it to be a one-sided conversation,” Boyd said. “I just don’t see it as something that’s a pressing issue in Hamilton County. There are so many needs that we need to be focused on that this is not an issue that is even on my radar.”
The statue of Confederate Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart was placed outside the courthouse in 1915 by the Daughters of the Confederacy. Lt. Gen. Stewart fought for the Army of Tennessee during the Battle of Chickamauga and was wounded on Sept. 19, 1863. He later took part in the long retreat to and the battle for Atlanta, serving under Gen. Joseph P. Johnston. He and his troops were defeated badly during the Battle of Nashville in 1864 and ultimately disbanded.
After the war, from 1890 to 1908, he was the commissioner of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.
A similar statue was removed in New Orleans in May. A statue of General Robert E. Lee was the last of four monuments to Confederate-era figures to be removed.