ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. – Quietly at the end of last month, members of the Rockbridge County-based Stonewall Brigade dedicated a property that will one day become a park that is home to Confederate statues and monuments.
10 News sat down with leaders on both sides of the issue and there is no doubt there is little common ground.
Pull up to the property that is becoming the Lee-Jackson Memorial Park, and you don’t have to guess what is happening here.
“This project came together really fast,” Brandon Dorsey manager of the park said.
Inspired by events in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and the backlash against anything Confederate, a group led by Brandon Dorsey, commander of the Stonewall Brigade, purchased two acres of land adjacent to Interstate 81.
“The real impetus for it has been the attacks on Confederate monuments whether here or elsewhere in the country,” he said.
The group dedicated the park in late May with hundreds of supporters in attendance.
“I called this a place for us. A place where we can calm down and not have interference from government trying to tell us what we can and cannot think,” Dorsey said. “We feel like we need to place that we can rescue monuments and memorials re-create ones that have been destroyed and put them on private property where they’re not chess pieces in the political game right now.”
Dorsey says he hopes the group will provide a home for Confederate monuments that are no longer welcome in their original communities. He sees the area as a tribute to history – not racism.
The NAACP disagrees.
“It is about history. But within the context of that history, there is racism,” Reginald Early President of the Rockbridge NAACP said.
“Our primary goal is to educate. Obviously, with all these memorials, we get to interpret them as we see history of them. So there will be emphasis on education,” Dorsey said.
“Even though they would never admit that, if you read history accurately, you can’t miss the fact that they enslaved people,” Early said.
The park is not yet open to the public and may not be for another one to two years.
The timeline is a bit uncertain, but what is certain is that it’s coming and the issues that divided the nation are still present.