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Board Hears Expert Testimony On Confederate Memorials

Josh James

The Urban County Art Review Board heard mixed opinions from area experts on the placement and treatment of two Confederate statues and a historical marker located near the Old Fayette County Courthouse Wednesday.

A slim majority of the seven historians, professors, and other experts recommended moving the statue depicting John Hunt Morgan, a general known as the “Thunderbolt of the Confederacy,” possibly to the Hunt-Morgan House on North Mill Street. Historian Maryjean Wall said the towering bronze likeness lionizes a scoundrel.

"Why did we erect a statue to a man who was so feared that when he and his men would ride through Lexington during the war they boarded up the windows?" she asked.

There was less agreement about the memorial depicting John C. Breckinridge, who also served as vice president. Historian Yvonne Giles, who is African-American, suggested the city keep the statues in place, adding, "I would, however, recommend that you establish a memorial monument fund that would be utilized to erect monuments for those individuals who endured 200-plus years of enslavement here in Lexington."

Speakers did near consensus on rewriting the associated labels and markers, which they argued paint an incomplete, even deceptive, picture of Lexington’s Civil War-era past.

A full public forum on the issue will take place Monday night from 6 to 8 pm. The Art Review Board will begin deliberations on Sept.30.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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