Delaware town again votes to fund Confederate flag-flying museum

The second vote to fund Georgetown’s Marvel Museum comes after the state AG said Council violated open meeting laws when they re-issued a $25,000 check.

The Confederate flag and monument at the Marvel Carriage Museum. (WHYY file)

The Confederate flag and monument at the Marvel Carriage Museum. (WHYY file)

A small, southern Delaware town has once again approved funding for a local museum that flies the Confederate flag. Georgetown Council voted 3-2 Monday night to restore funding for the Marvel Museum, the site of a monument to Delawareans who fought for the Confederate army.

Council originally voted in favor of sending the museum the money earlier this summer. That check was voided by Mayor Bill West after the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice pointed out that the museum applied for the funds after the application period had closed.

Three council members then met on their own and got another check reissued to send to the museum. That constituted a “secret meeting” according to a ruling last week from the Delaware Attorney General’s office.

That ruling led to Monday night’s meeting, where council members could have rescinded the reissued check. Instead, council voted 3-2 in favor of sending the money.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Mayor Bill West was disappointed by the outcome he said sets the town up for more legal trouble.

“By just doing the things that we’ve just done, we’re dragging this out to where there’s going to be a lawsuit in the town of Georgetown,” West said after the vote. “The yes’s win, 3-2, and I guess we’ll see everybody in court.”

That lawsuit could come over claims that the money was authorized in violation of town law because the application was received after the April 1 deadline.

Joe Lawson with the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice was highly critical of council members who voted yes. “Shame on you. You represent what has divided and hurt and taken American keeping and kept America from being all that could be,” he said.

Coby Owens, with the Delaware NAACP, echoed Lawson’s outrage. “It seems as though you just don’t know what you’re doing up there. And you should probably resign, you see, because yet again, you all have decided to uphold white supremacy. You have decided to sit up there and show your racist true selves as you voted for this piece of this check to go to the museum,” he said.

Council member Angela Townsend voted for sending the money to the museum but says that she’s not a racist.

“I have been yelled at. I have been called every name under the sun,” she said. “I talk to people that live in town. And they’re for the flag and they’re for the flag because they consider it history. Please do not erase our history.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Owens strongly disagreed.

“My ancestors were beaten while this flag waved over their bodies. My ancestors were hung, my people were in chains, and the bloodiest war in American history was fought with the opposite side against freedom and unity waving that flag,” he said. “It’s unthinkable that this brazen symbol of white supremacy continues to fly in 2022.”

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal