A North Carolina county official defended his family's antebellum history by redefining their slaves as "workers."
The Alamance County Board of Commissioners meeting was interrupted by a lengthy debate on Confederate memorials when local activists asked elected officials to keep displays in downtown Graham after other cities have voted to remove their own, reported the Times-News.
Gary Williamson, founder of the pro-secession group Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County, read about two paragraphs of a prepared speech before a buzzer stopped him, the newspaper reported.
“No Southern man that stands behind the truths of Southern history will ever stand beside a man holding a Nazi symbol,” Williamson said. “The men and women that hold these Confederate monuments dear to our hearts share a stand for no reason other than pride and honor for the sons and fathers that answered the call to defend their homes, their families and their rights. To me personally, I know each and every inch of my family history, and I have eight links of Confederate ancestors. Not one owned slaves. Our monuments are no different than a grave marker for the sons and fathers that did not return home from the battles that they believed to be worthy of cause.”
However, one county commissioner appeared to admit his family had owned slaves prior to the Civil War -- although he was loathe to call them that.
“I am not ashamed of my great-grandfather,” said Tim Sutton, first elected as county commissioner in 1994 and a high school driving instructor. “He did what he did. It is my understanding that when he died, from Sarah, my grandmother, that some guys on the farm, you can call them slaves if you want to, but I would just call them workers, that they raised a good bit of my family. When the time came, my great-grandmother gave them land. I am not going to be an assault on logic, an assault on the history of this country and the heritage of this area and this country. Not going to do it.”
Sutton, a President Donald Trump supporter and chartered member of the Sons of the Confederacy, complained that Confederate memorial opponents were ignoring historical facts.
“I will never vote to do anything to take that statue or monument away from here for whatever reason,” Sutton said. “If it comes down, it goes back up. To heck with facts -- the emotions have just gone haywire. I am not going to be a victim of political correctness. I am just not going to do it. Label me all you want, say what you will about me."