Thanks to the generosity of everyone who contributed to our GoFundMe campaign, not only did our Martin Luther King billboard appear over the newly erected Confederate memorial in Orange, Texas on Martin Luther King Day this year, but it continues to appear and has appeared for the entirety of African American History Month (February).
Our goal was to buy one month of advertising space, starting a few days before the MLK holiday (January 20, this year), to coincide with our protest of the site that day. But ultimately we raised enough money to cover two months, making it possible to keep it up throughout February and beyond.
In late 2017, two Orange residents — Granvel Block and Hank Van Slyke — first began displaying the Confederate flag over their newly built Graeco-Roman atrium on Martin Luther King Dr. in Orange, where half the population is black and where there is a nasty legacy of Jim Crow and racial violence. And that’s when Tracie and I began organizing our protests at the site. Tracie grew up there and we spend a lot of time there with our children. (You can read about our campaign here on our Repurpose Memorial website.)
One of our donors this year was the Southern Poverty Law Center. Please check out the center’s Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy website and awareness program.
Tracie and I aren’t giving up this fight — not now, not ever.
It appears that at least one of the site’s organizers is launching a new campaign to intimidate us. It’s not their first and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
The people who conceived and built the site claim to be members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a secretive society of cowards who hide behind cosplay pageantry, all the while insinuating their racist iconography into public discourse.
They have brought a stain on their community with their “Memorial of the Wind,” as they call it (perhaps a better name would be the “Memorial of the Breaking Wind”!). And they lack the moral backbone to engage with their fellow citizens in meaningful dialog about the damage they have done to their city’s reputation and standing in the eyes of fellow Texans and Americans.
Bring it on, Granvel! Bring it on, Hank! We’re not going away and we will continue to remind you and your kind that such conspicuous displays of hateful iconography are socially unacceptable.
Thanks to everyone who made the billboard possible this year.