Georgia Display Divides Veterans’ Names By Race

AP, November 11, 2006

A display in a central Georgia community divides the names of 800 local veterans into two lists, marked in large type: “Whites” and “Colored.”

The display has been in the lobby of the Taylor County courthouse since 1944, honoring service members who fought in World War II. The two lists are mounted side by side behind glass in two large frames.

John Cole Vodicka, an activist from Americus, is organizing a rally Monday at the courthouse to persuade the county commission to take down the display.

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In January, the Taylor County Commission unanimously decided to create an “integrated” list, with all the names together, along with additional names that weren’t in the display designed before the war ended.

But the commission also decided to leave the “Whites” and “Colored” lists up in the lobby of the building.

“If we erase everything we find offensive or don’t like, then it may happen again,” said Sybil Willingham, chairwoman of the county’s Historic Preservation Commission.

“The two existing lists are not to be taken down because it’s against the law and it’s historic,” she said, citing a law that makes it unlawful for people to “mutilate, deface, defile, or abuse” public monuments honoring servicemembers.

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