- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

BUTLER, Ga.

A group of activists protested this week against racially segregated lists of local veterans that have been displayed for more than 60 years at the Taylor County Courthouse.

The protesters, including state leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, want Taylor County officials to remove two large framed documents put up in 1944 to honor 800 of the county’s World War II veterans.

On one “honor roll” is a list of white veterans. On the other is a list of “colored” veterans, including Maceo Snipes, a soldier who served in the Pacific, returned home and was fatally shot in 1946 after activists say he became the first black to vote in Taylor County.

Led by the NAACP and by the Americus-based Prison & Jail Project, an inmate advocacy and civil rights groups, the 40 protesters marched through the courthouse carrying signs that read “Jim Crow Must Go,” and singing the well-known civil rights hymn, “We Shall Overcome.”

County commissioners decided earlier this year to create a third integrated plaque with all of the names, plus some that weren’t in the original displays, which were created before the war ended.

Commissioners say they cannot remove the displays because it would violate a state law that makes it illegal to “mutilate, deface, defile or abuse” public monuments honoring service members.

Patty James, one of two black members of the commission, said she would have preferred to have the plaques removed, but said the law prevented it, so now it’s time to move on to other issues.

“We’re about promoting peace and unity in the county,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of good folks, white and black.”

But state NAACP President Edward DuBose told a crowd outside the courthouse Monday that the plaques were an affront to the soldiers fighting in Iraq, “where the blood ain’t black or white, it’s red.”

“We will not leave until those plaques come down,” Mr. DuBose vowed.

About a dozen of the demonstrators were aging relatives of Mr. Snipes. They said Mr. Snipes was buried in an unmarked grave at night and they don’t even know its location.

“It was a scary time,” said Lula Montfort, 70, of Griffin. “To this day, I tell myself I have to vote because he gave his life.”


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