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Confederate soldier statue outside the Old Randolph County Courthouse in downtown Asheboro. The bronze statue was erected 106 years ago to honor Civil War veterans from Randolph County.

RANDOLPH COUNTY — Randolph County is faced with too many daunting needs to spend time on the divisive issue of whether to remove a Confederate monument in front of the Randolph County courthouse, the chairman of the county board of commissioners said recently.

Commissioner Darrell Frye said at the board’s October meeting that county residents should focus on unity and what is right with the community, including the county’s diversity.

“It’s obvious that there’s not a clear answer to this issue … It’s already become very divisive to our county, and we don’t need that,” he said. “My wife and I were watching a movie the other night … , and there was a line in that movie, ‘We cannot forget history any more than we can change it.’ We can’t change it. It happened. And we live among ourselves; that’s what’s important. The diversity in our county has never been better than it is today.”

In September, the Asheboro/Randolph County chapter of the NAACP renewed the effort to have the monument moved from downtown Asheboro to a museum.

The monument featuring a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier on a 26-feet-high pedestal and 9-foot granite base, which was sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, was dedicated Sept. 2, 1911.

Although some other cities have removed Confederate monuments — including Lexington, which agreed last year to move one from Main Street to a site outside the city limits, and Richmond, Virginia, where the final of several monuments to be taken down was a massive statue of Robert E. Lee this past summer — Frye said the Randolph board was not in a position to make a similar move.

“First of all, we can’t take the statue down. Only the state of North Carolina can remove the statue. They might come back and contract with us to take it down, but we can’t go take the statue down,” he said.

Frye asked for patience.

“We have been fighting for over three years to save our hospital. … We have a megasite where we’re trying to bring in a name company to bring good-paying jobs and benefits for all the citizens of Randolph County. We’re working on the pandemic that we’ve been living with for close to two years, over a year and a half, and that has in itself created division within our county. And that’s the point that I want to make,” he said. “We don’t need division within our county as we go forward and try to deal with the health and safety of our citizens.”

dkennedy@atnonline.net | 336-888-3578