Standing in support of NAACP


To the Editor:

Our Island community is again in controversy over the Civil War monument in Oak Bluffs. The discussion is about moving the plaques honoring Confederate soldiers to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. It is NOT about removing the statue, which represents a Union soldier.

As members, we write for the Racial Justice and Human Dignity Committee of We Stand Together/Estamos Todos Juntos, in support of the Martha’s Vineyard chapter of the NAACP. We agree these plaques should be removed and donated as pieces of history to the M.V. Museum. The plaques can become a basis for education.

One plaque declares, “The chasm is closed.” Would that this were true. To quote Mayor Mitch Landrieu on the removal in 2017 of Confederate monuments in New Orleans, “The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget, and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.”

Let us work together to look fearlessly at the legacy of slavery and the persistence of racism in our community. The statue will remain. The plaques belong in the museum.

Michelle Jasny, West Tisbury

Jane Katch, Chilmark

Toni Kaufman, Oak Bluffs

Talia Luening, Oak Bluffs



  1. The Statue will stay as is. PERIOD. Have any of you asked the MV Museum if they would even accept them IF you do succeed to desecrate it? I understand Not.

    • Ancestors of most people of color were brought to America against their will, they were made slaves here. Do people of color count? Are their thoughts, opinions, and feelings to be respected? Does the Constitution guarantee the same freedoms you claim?

      • Second paragraph begins: “As members, we write for the Racial Justice and Human Dignity…”

        Racial justice and human dignity. You have a problem with either?

  2. I would like someone to convince me that these plaques should be removed but it hasn’t happened yet.
    Racial justice, like social justice, while it sounds nice literally means to treat a person as part of a social identity or race, before treating them as an individual in common law justice system, or society That Sounds pretty messed up to me.
    But to the letters point, “to look fearlessly at the legacy of slavery and persistence of racism” – wouldn’t looking fearlessly mean to literally leave the plaques where they are and read them learn from them? And further the statue doesn’t “represent” a union soldier, it is in fact a rendering of a union soldier, that is giving honor, reconciliation, etc to the confederacy. Plaque or not that is what it will always represent. Your chasm quote, based off my posting on the other thread, is also misplaced.
    Again, I’m not all save the plaques, but I haven’t read or heard something yet that convinces me.
    As it is Mr. Clement Kings world view that only sees in terms of a persons color and tourist income is enough for me to say this whole debate has very little to with reason.

    • You have it backwards. Racial justice means to treat them as fully vested individuals in a common law justice system without bias. It’s okay to treat an individual as part of a social identity or race, but that must be done without carrying a bias into daily life (will give an example if wished).

      As for the statue vs plaque question: Both came from from before the 15th Amendment (elsewhere incorrectly said 19th, sorry). Do you believe former slaves were asked about how they felt about statues? With Jim Crow laws persisting into the 1960’s, my guess is many white people did not care to ask.

      So we have today. Roughly the same question: Do you believe descendants of former slaves are being asked how they feel about the plaques and their answer respected? What chasm has been closed, that between whites of the north and south or that between whites and people of color? Honestly, I don’t believe either chasm has closed.

      • Fine tune: Statues and 15th Amendment within a decade of each other. But while law is law, not everyone supported.

    • Caution of describing the statue as reconciliation to the confederacy, the Union did not offer the statue. Charles Strahan, a publisher of the Martha’s Vineyard Herald and a Confederate veteran, erected the statue in 1891 as “a gesture of conciliation,” according to the plaque. The defeated forgives the victor?


  3. WOD – let me try without being long- winded. Because responsible members of the community asked politely and respectfully. They don’t want to be “educated” on the finer debate points. They are offended in a way that only non-white people can understand. It does not seem to much to ask if it promotes racial harmony.

  4. To the contrary, WhaleOilDriller. For me, this is not a debate at all, and has everything to do with REASON …and yes, RACE. How can it not be when the man who erected this statue (and was the inspiration for the plaques Vineyarders subsequently put up) took a bullet to preserve the enslavement of Black folk???
    You want to whitewash that and say, “No, no, it was about the reconciliation between ‘us’ veterans (warring white men). We were just settling a little misunderstanding and smoothing over sore feelings.”
    Make no mistake: that misunderstanding was at the expense of my tribe.
    As your own MV historian Bowdoin Van Riper put it best in his YouTube lecture, ” the South had gone to war in defense of their rights to maintain a society built on slavery, and their citizen’s rights to practice murder, rape, kidnapping and terrorism, unmolested by their own governments, free from the touch of law, against what they regarded as an inferior race.” Those are his words, not mine.
    The ‘inferior race’ Van Riper was referring to is my community, WhaleOilDriller. Those are my people, the same ones who butter the bread of tourism-dependent Oak Bluffs every July and August to the tune of an estimated $30 million dollars-plus.
    So, it kills me when you Vineyarders (so-called Patriots) play dumb, holier than thou and suffer from selective amnesia where it concerns your own sordid history. I’m speaking here of the theft of the land and annihilation of the Wampanoags (or what’s left of them). I’m talking about the place you call ‘home’ – Massachusetts – THE FIRST to legalize slavery among the Colonies. And now you want to give a pass – not to the Native Americans or Black folk who were at the receiving end of your brutality – you want to rear up and revere Confederate soldiers who followed your brutal lead. And we, Black folk, are expected to stay quiet? Talk about adding insult to injury.
    Like I said, this ain’t a debate at all. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s about following one’s moral compass. And it’s about repenting for sins committed a so-called inferior race (Black and Red folk).
    Massachusetts is the home of THE ACADEMY. So, please start doing your homework.
    And finally, in closing, while I’m no fan of the New England Patriots, there is one axiom Bill Belichick that I absolutely love: “DO YOUR JOB!!!”
    I hope Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen, who are obviously are terrified, and have PUNTED so far on this issue, can follow his direction. Otherwise, MV is going to lose this season.

Comments are closed.