First, I wish to state that protests are an inherent right in America.
Second, I wish to state that protests should serve to educate not inflame or bring division.
Sadly, while Unique Dunston has adhered to the first, she has failed in the second. Her wish to “educate” Marshall County about slavery and Chief Justice Marshall is a form of chicanery to gain sympathy for her quest to have a statute and flag removed from the county courthouse grounds.
In creating this stunt using “body bags” with slaves’ names to draw attention to removal of both the monument honoring those killed during this war and the Confederate flag, she has relinquished her claim of promoting the unity that were the purpose of her two marches in early 2020. And, I fear, all that she has accomplished is to harden the positions of those who agree with her and those who disagree with her. Using “body bags” that are black bags normally used for refuse seems to me inappropriate. I wish to give her the benefit of the doubt that her intentions were not to demean the lives of those whose names represented each “body bag.” They each had a soul and spirit. But, oftentimes, in attempting to achieve a goal, one loses sight of the nuances as a result of their actions.
Yes, Chief Justice Marshall was a slave owner. His holdings were in Virginia. He was neither the only justice on the Supreme Court who owned slaves nor who ruled in favor of pro-slavery, both Southerners and Northerners. John Marshall was born during a time when slavery in both the North and the South was pervasive. In early 1800’s, almost all of the Northern States, a notable exception being Connecticut’s caveat, legislated against any form of slavery.
Marshall County, Alabama was established six months before Justice Marshall’s death on July 6, 1835. Slavery was, as almost everyone knows, still a part of Southern commerce. In January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation gave freedom to slaves in Southern and Western states. The notable exceptions were what is called the five or six border states. Their slaves gained freedom in 1864-65.
A discussion about slavery is like peeling an onion with so many layers and each comes with tears.
By Unique Dunston’s words she wishes to educate the citizens of Marshall County about their name sake and his connection to slavery.
Will her next goal be to change the name of Marshall County as restitution?
I do believe in history and monuments are often erected to represent that history. The South lost a war called by different names depending upon the outlook of different groups. The monument represents those who fought in that war whether justified or not. History has shown that wars are not always beneficial to either the victors or the losers. Yet, monuments are erected to those who fought in those wars. Shall we remove all of them lest it offends some? Is it tradition versus expediency or something else entirely?
The monument was originally located elsewhere and had to be removed and the courthouse land was the more visible site. What I do not understand, and certainly am willing to be educated, is why anyone would feel having the monument located at a courthouse equates with unequal justice? A monument is a commemorative stone, no more no less. Would it be fair to say that the statue of Lady Justice outside a courthouse imbues the same distrust of equal justice despite its scales and blindfold?
To me, the South represents things both beautiful and sorrowful. In short, it is history, and its purpose is to learn from it!
For what it is worth, I do feel flags that represent our country and representative state should be the only ones to fly on government land. If an individual wishes to fly a different flag, whether one representing a point of view or a political party, they are totally free to do so on private property.
Since the location of this monument has become such a controversy, maybe it would be appropriate for the citizens of Marshall County to express their opinion by voting on the issue.