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'Divine 9' fraternities and sororities call for Madison County Confederate monument to be moved

Those who spoke on Thursday argued that the Madison County Commission has the ability to take down the statue now if it chooses to do so.

Posted: Jul 30, 2020 10:49 PM

Calls for change rang out across the steps of the Madison County Courthouse on Thursday.

Members of the nine historically black fraternities and sororities known collectively as the "Divine 9" joined in the groups who have demanded the Confederate statue be removed from the courthouse and relocated elsewhere. 

Members of the fraternities and sororities that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council came together on July 30, 2020, to collectively call for the removal of the Confederate monument that sits at the Madison County Courthouse. Members of the fraternities and sororities that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council came together on July 30, 2020, to collectively call for the removal of the Confederate monument that sits at the Madison County Courthouse.

"If that's still there a hundred years from now, that will continue to tell people that it's ok, as a matter of fact, it's celebrated when you oppress people that look like us," said one speaker with the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority.

The members of the Divine 9, also referred to as the National Pan-Hellenic Council, marched around the courthouse before arguing for why the statue should come down.

Speakers like Ronald Childress, said they're disappointed at the apparent lack of a plan from the Madison County Commission. 

"Why haven't they came out and said, ok, here's our course of action, here's some of the things that we're looking at, so that then we don't have to continue to come up here because we're hearing from all of the city leaders on what their plan is," said Childress, the president of the Delta Theta Lamda chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

APA is the oldest of the nine fraternities and sororities. It was formed in 1906 on the campus of Cornell University.

Earlier this month, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong received an email from the Committee on Alabama Monument Protection, which said that local leaders would have to work with the Alabama Attorney General's Office if they want to move the statue to another location.

WAAY 31 reached out to the offices of both Strong and AG John Merrill and we are waiting to hear back.

Back at the courthouse, Bernard Simelton said he belongs to the same fraternity as the late John Lewis, Phi Beta Sigma. Lewis, a Troy native who fought for civil rights throughout his life and time in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Simelton said Thursday's call for action honors the life's work of the man who was buried in Georgia on Thursday.

"This is a fitting tribute to him because the only way we're going to get that statue removed is to vote to overturn the Memorial Preservation Act in the State of Alabama legislature," Simelton said. 

However, Alabama State Representative Laura Hall, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, said making that happen is unlikely with the current makeup of the legislature. She said it would be far easier for Huntsville and Madison County to follow in the footsteps of cities like Birmingham and Mobile.

"They can do an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the Attorney General and pay the fine. That's what Mobile did. So there's no reason why we could not have the same thing happen here in Madison County," Hall said.

Members of the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance were also out on Thursday and stated that the $25,000 needed to pay the state fine for removing the statue has already been collected. 

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