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A young woman stands in front of the Murray’s Confederate monument as a man makes a lewd gesture at her sign. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Paducah Sun) 

A Community Divided

In this series – “A Community Divided” – we are taking a multi-faceted approach to telling the stories of controversy that surround the Confederate monument that stands on the lawn of the Calloway County Courthouse, predominantly focusing on the events that occurred in 2020 when a group of residents organized, to collectively call for the removal of the monument, which, in turn, prompted another group of residents to defend the monument’s placement. The ensuing conflict, which made national headlines, pitted “neighbor against neighbor” across Calloway County, notably echoing the sentiments that divided the country over 150 years ago during the Civil War, particularly in border states like Kentucky. On Jan. 15, there will be a screening at Murray State University’s Wrather West Kentucky Museum of a documentary film about the conflict called “Ghosts of a Lost Cause.” The Sentinel did not exist at the time to contribute our objective, analytical style of journalism to the conversation. We would like to take that opportunity now, in the lead-up to the screening. Join us as we take a “deep dive” into the controversy that thrusted our community into the national spotlight four years ago. (Photo credit: Dave Thompson/Paducah Sun)


Table of Contents

Documentary reflects on movement to ‘Move the Monument’

MURRAY – Former Murray State University assistant football coach, Sherman Neal II returns to Murray for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day screening of the documentary “Ghosts of a Lost Cause.” Neal co-produced and stars in the film, which chronicles residents’ efforts in 2020 to relocate the Confederate monument that currently stands on the grounds of the Calloway County Courthouse.

Citizens voice concerns over conflict

This section includes public comments made during Calloway County Fiscal Court meetings in the summer of 2020, letters sent to the fiscal court and “Letters to the Editor” from the Murray Ledger & Times.

A view from the inside

In this section, we take a look back at the summer of 2020 through the lens of those who were actively involved, from county government officials to reporters as well as citizens who took on projects to progress their cause. Stories in this section include: 

Behind the camera: A reporter’s reflections on covering protests in Murray (Column by Dave Thompson)

Driving up to Court Square the evening of July 15, 2020, my nerves were already frayed. Less than two months earlier, in Paducah, I’d seen a small cloud of protestors blossom into a supercell that marched miles with a level of intensity that rocked my nice-white-liberal understanding of race relations.

Lessons learned through community activism (Column by Benson Jones)

Murray has always been my home, and I imagine that Murray will continue to be my home in the future, no matter where I am. When I moved away for college, l took pride in telling people that I came from the small town in western Kentucky that was home to Murray State University, but in the summer of 2020, I was embarrassed to call Murray my home.

A clear message: ‘You are not welcome here’ (OPINION)

In this two-part series, historian Berry Craig grounds local efforts to remove a Confederate statue from the lawn of the Calloway County Courthouse within the greater movement to remove such monuments from public spaces and lends context to their symbolism.

Part One: Heritage or hate?

Part Two: The roots of the Lost Cause myth

Resource Library

Documents, such as the 124-page report Sherman Neal submitted with his request to speak during the July 15, 2020 Calloway County Fiscal Court meeting and the respective resolutions from the Calloway County Fiscal Court and the Murray City Council, are available to view and download.

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