BOS approves historical marker for Holmes
Published 1:28 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2020
During its Monday, May 11 meeting, the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors voted to support the location of a Department of Historic Resources (DHR) highway marker memorializing Joseph R. Holmes in the Court House Green square.
The placement of the historical marker is being spearheaded by Kathy Liston who recently published the history of and murder of Holmes.
According to Liston, Holmes was a former slave who served as an elected delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868.
Because of his outspoken support of civil rights and education for freed people, he was murdered on the courthouse steps in Charlotte County.
“His death was reported internationally, drawing attention to the plight of freed people,” Liston said. “The marker text, which must be approved by DHR, will memorialize Holmes’s public service, not just his murder.”
Liston said the marker comes with a price tag of $1,800 and will be paid for by private donations. There will be no cost to the county.
“Although not as well known today as Patrick Henry, he was prominent in his own time espousing the same ideals of liberty and justice for all,” Liston said. “He was an important early civil rights leader who deserves recognition in the county in which he lived, died, and is buried.”
In an email, Phenix/Aspen District Supervisor Donna Fore said, “I vote yes for Mr. Holmes’ marker and believe it will be a positive step for our county, particularly in recognizing the legacy and contributions of African Americans in our history.”
Vice-Chairman Gary Walker was the only supervisor who voted no on the letter of support for the marker.
In an email exchange with Liston, Walker wrote, “While Mr. Holmes may be worthy of this honor there are others who have served in the General Assembly and the military who would also qualify for this honor. If it were to be placed at his home site I would be voting in favor, but setting the precedent of placing it on the courthouse lawn would be unwise, in my opinion. If that is the only option I will have to vote no.”
Liston said that while she pointed out there are multiple markers for Patrick Henry, John Randolph and Paul Carrington, there is not a single marker or monument commemorating African American contributions to the county.
“Joe was a civil rights martyr,” Liston said. “The marker will generate pride within our community and interest in our county.”