Paducah Residents Speak About Tilghman Monument
By Adam Morton
PADUCAH, KY - At Tuesday's City Commission meeting the Paducah Board of Commissioners heard from citizens who spoke about the statue of Confederate General Lloyd Tilghman at Lang Park. 

Over the course of more than an hour, several people voiced their thoughts about the statue itself, Confederate monuments in general, history and racism.  

Paducah resident Bob Johnston said the statue should be left in place. "Lloyd Tilghman was a product of his times. The Statue does not define Paducah's present sentiment." Johnston said. He said the statue is a marker of how Paducah and the nation have changed.

Craig Cain, captain of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans of Kentucky, said the monument is just part of  history. "History is just this as a whole Good or bad. You can't pick the parts that you want to be remembered." Cain said. Cain added that he felt the removal of  any monument would dishonor his ancestors.

Paducah resident Dawn Smith had a different point of view. She said the Tilghman Statue does not adequately represent our history. "Our Confederate monuments and our flags don't preserve our nation's history. With all due respect, they rewrite it." Smith said. Smith said the monuments were built when Jim Crowe laws were in effect to intimidate and provoke fear. She added that more confederate monuments were built during the Civil Rights Era for the same reason. 

A few of the commissioners shared their thoughts about issue, and how Paducah can set an example. Commissioner Richard Abraham said, “I have never lived in city as loving and caring as Paducah.”  Abraham also said Paducah has great potential to set an example for the rest of the country.  

Commissioner Sarah Holland said, “The most important thing to me is to have a conversation as a community and to not treat each other as the enemy.”  

“We have an opportunity to do it different in Paducah and look each other in the eye," said Mayor Brandi Harless, thanking those in attendance for their participation in the discussion.

Mayor Brandi Harless opened the public comment period by thanking the crowd for their willingness to have these difficult conversations with respect and dignity. Harless asked everyone to think about the question as it relates to current issues such as poverty and job opportunities:  How can I understand what racism in 2017 looks like? 

The discussion was prompted after several online petitions circulated in recent weeks both for and against removal of all Confederate monuments in Paducah, and after several area churches partnered with the NAACP calling for the removal of the statues.

The commission did not take any action on the matter, and did not indicate whether any future action may be taken.

Published 09:47 PM, Tuesday Sep. 12, 2017
Updated 11:06 AM, Thursday Sep. 14, 2017

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