‘Beautiful but backwards state’: Capitol Building Commission postpones meeting again


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — For the second time in a row, the state Capitol Building Commission meeting was postponed, disappointing activists who have been calling for the removal of the Stonewall Jackson statue from capitol grounds.

The group has been trying to bring the issue into public discussion.

Since the summer, the group has been actively holding rallies, calling for the removal of the Confederate general’s statue from its prominent corner.

They want it moved inside the State Museum.

So far, it’s fallen on deaf ears.

“I just feel like the stonewalling of this issue by the state government contributes to an image problem that our state has, as a beautiful but backwards state,” said James Cochran with the West Virginians Against Confederate Commemoration group.

Cochran worked over the summer with a graphic artist and has illustrations ready of famous black West Virginians like Martin Delaney, Christopher Payne, and Elizabeth Drewry who can replace the statue of Stonewall Jackson.

“They’re way more deserving than Stonewall Jackson who fought to preserve slavery and prevent West Virginia from becoming a state,” he said.

The Governor and the Capitol Building Commission are the only bodies who can have the statue removed.

A Capitol Building Commission meeting back in October was postponed due to a scheduling conflict, and on Wednesday, it was postponed yet again.

In a statement to 13 News, the capitol building commission wrote: “A staff member of the West Virginia Library Commission tested positive for COVID-19 last week and the Culture Center was subsequently closed and sanitized. Out of an abundance of caution, the Library Commission and Archives Library remain closed at this time. The Culture Center gift shop is open and the museum is operating with limited visitors. To ensure the safety of visitors and patrons, all staff are being tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to the building.
This is why this week’s Capitol Building Commission was rescheduled. We won’t know what is scheduled on the agenda for the December 9 meeting until closer to that date.”

But Cochran says a capitol building commission meeting in June was held via Zoom.

“What it seems like to me is that nobody really wants to address the issue and they’re just sort of hoping that it will go away like it has countless times before,” he said.

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