Confederate statue coming down at Va. site of interracial marriage case

Virginia’s Caroline County courthouse, which was at the center of a landmark civil rights decision involving interracial marriages, will soon lose the Confederate sentry that has stood on the courthouse lawn for 114 years.

The county’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday night to remove the statue, which had been erected in 1906 by the Bowling Green United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Jeff Black, supervisor of the Western Caroline District, told WTOP he believes such statues have value, but said, “My problem with it was the location, and the number of people that were upset by the location.”

Under a Virginia law which took effect July 1, the county will entertain offers from groups to take ownership of the statue, which currently overlooks North Main Street in the town of Bowling Green.

Black and other supervisors said they wanted the statue to be handled with respect, but moved someplace else.

”What you’ve seen in some of the other areas, like Richmond, with them being vandalized and torn down — we didn’t want that,” Black said.

During Monday’s public hearing before the vote, several Black community members said the Confederate statue was a constant reminder of slavery and racism.

Especially given that the statue stands on a courthouse lawn, said Black, “It just seems to be inconsistent with the same place that the Loving versus Virginia court case originally started.”

In 1958, Mildred Loving, a woman of color, and her husband, Richard, who was white, were sentenced to a year in prison for marrying each other.

The 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled laws banning interracial marriage violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

After 30 days, the Board of Supervisors will vote to determine which group will take custody of the statue.

Earlier this month, Albemarle County became the first county in Virginia to vote to remove its Confederate monument.

Loudoun County’s statue was removed after its Board of Supervisors voted to accept the offer from the local Daughters of the Confederacy group to take control of its statue, which also had been on courthouse grounds.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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