A decommissioning ceremony for the Confederate flag was held Sunday in front of Wellington town hall as the sun set on this year’s Lorain County Fair.
The ceremony was held by the Fair Minded Coalition of Lorain County, a group that’s fought sales of the flag at the fair since 2015 and recently erected three billboards in the area reiterating that message.
A Confederate flag used in Sunday’s event had been found last week draped over one of those billboards.
“We’re calling out the fair board to sit down with us and have a conversation,” said Lorain city councilman Angel Arroyo as he held the flag before spectators. “We don’t need this (expletive) flag anymore. That’s what the purpose of the Civil War was. That’s why we have one flag today with 50 stars on it. We have 50 stars because we’re one country.”
Members of the coalition read a symbolic obituary for the flag before rolling it up and declaring it “deceased.”
“Secessionist, slave-holding states’ economies depended heavily on the free labor of enslaved African-Americans,” said coalition member Caroline Meister. “The belief system this flag represents is responsible for the suffering, abuse, torture and murder of millions of enslaved Africans before the Civil War and more than half-a-million soldiers during the Civil War. Although the flag is long dead, people continue to suffer in its name.”
Other speakers included former Oberlin police chief Robert Jones, David Ashenhurst of the Lorain County Board of Mental Health, and Amir Khalid Samad, CEO of a Cleveland community group named Peace in the Hood.
“All of my life, coming up through the South, college, and the police department, I’ve made a promise to myself that I would treat everyone how I wanted to be treated,” Jones said. “When I was in the service, I didn’t fight for that flag. I fought for Old Glory.”
Ashenhurst referenced the 1858 Oberlin-Wellington rescue, in which escaped slave John Pryce was abducted by U.S. marshals and then rescued by residents of both communities before he could be returned to the South.
“There were fair-minded people from Wellington indicted in that rescue and those are the people I’d like to be in dialogue with,” he said. “I want to be in dialogue with people the fair board listens to, like faith leaders. I don’t expect the fair board to listen to us, but I do expect them to listen to other major institutions in this county.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.