Avoiding another Charlottesville--facilitation hypothetical
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
A few weeks ago on a college campus in a city not too far away, construction workers unearthed a bronze equestrian statue of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson posed atop his favorite horse, Little Sorrel. Debate erupted on the predominantly white private college campus amongst administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni after members of the history department verified that the statue was one of several Confederate monuments that the college (with funds raised by the United Daughters of the Confederacy) had erected between 1900 and 1917, but mysteriously had gone missing overnight on September 15, 1963.
Most students and student leaders, particularly the Multicultural Student Council, were shocked to learn of their college’s past allegiance to the Lost Cause, but an unlikely alliance between members of the Federalist Society, Panhellenic Council, Christian Fellowship and Students for Concealed Carry on Campus joined to lobby in support of restoration of a monument to honor this faithful Calvinist who taught Sunday school to his slaves and later took up arms in predetermined service to God’s Will. The college’s alumni association was split between those extremely wealthy and generous traditionalists who were eager to fund the restoration of the Found Cause and the not-so-wealthy but more numerous baby boomers who were disappointed that they had failed in 1963 to forever bury this relic of the Lost Cause. Similar divisions arose during faculty meetings with senior tenured professors seeing no harm in resurrecting a display to honor and commemorate southern valor during the Civil War and non-tenured junior faculty and members of ALANA-IA who found morally indefensible the notion of honoring a man who took up arms to defend chattel slavery and who committed treason against the United States. (The U.S. Constitution which had been ratified by Virginia and other formerly free sovereign and Independent States defines treason as “bearing arms against the US or giving their enemies aid and comfort”). Campus police and maintenance departments viewed the situation as well beyond their capacity to maintain order or avoid repeated vandalism or destruction of the monument if restored to a central display, and therefore reached out to city and county officials for help in maintaining law and order.
Many views were expressed but the debate centered on whether Stonewall Jackson and Little Sorrel should be moved unceremoniously to another unmarked grave, be resurrected and restored to its former prominent place just inside the main gate of the college, or be removed to the Florida museum of art and culture and made a part of a larger Civil War exhibit.
News of the Found Cause spread rapidly across this private college campus and throughout the otherwise quiet community that surrounded it. With plenty of help from outsiders from the same Alt-Right and white nationalists groups that marched in Charlottesville and opposing groups itching to avenge the death of Heather Heyer, those in favor of resurrecting the Found Cause mailed applications seeking city and college permits to march and demonstrate. Those applications arrived in the permit offices in the exact same US mail delivery as applications from those in favor of burying the Lost Cause forever. They all sought the same weekend dates--January 12-15, 2018--and both sets of applications sought permits to march and demonstrate in the same city and college public spaces and venues. The city’s MLK Committee was busy making its usual plans for that same weekend but had failed to submit applications to secure these dates and venues before the other applications had arrived....
(c) DEI Facilitation & Consulting 2019
Contact DEI Facilitation & Consulting (386 473 1336) to discuss how Mr. Small can adapt this hypothetical and generate questions to facilitate honest dialogue, mutual understanding and a basis for true collaboration between stakeholders in your organization.