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Rally slated Sunday to push for Dunavant’s ouster from Halifax Town Council

South Boston News
Jack Dunavant of Halifax
SoVaNow.com / July 31, 2020
Citizens outraged by a letter to the editor written this week by Halifax Town Council member Jack Dunavant will rally in Halifax on Sunday to call for his ouster from office.

The backlash comes after Dunavant penned his letter, “Killing America,” published in both local newspapers, in which he blamed the ills of American society on “a cottage industry” of social safety net programs that “are paying able bodied men not to work and paying poor mothers to have illegitimate children out of wedlock.”

A passage in Dunavant’s letter — “I was privileged to be raised in a home by and with good colored people back in the day when children were born in wedlock and expected to behave like civilized human beings. And whenever one of us boys stepped out of line Aunt Rose did not hesitate to tan our hind-parts with her ever-present dish towel” — has drawn the particular ire of many on social media who condemned Dunavant’s portrayal as reinforcing racist stereotypes.

“An African American elderly woman being called ‘Auntie’ or ‘Aunt’ by a Caucasian is not a term of endearment. It was purposely named as a condescending substitute to Miss or Mrs. for those titles were not afforded to African American women,” wrote South Boston Town Council member Sharon Harris on her Facebook page, in response to Dunavant’s letter.

The protest in Halifax is planned for Sunday at 6 p.m., with marchers planning to assemble at the Halifax Farmers Market to walk past the Courthouse and Town Hall to Houston Street and back to the farmers market. Tentative plans call for speakers at the market square, with the event expected to wrap up around 7:30.

It is a change from the organizers’ original plan, which called on protestors to march past Dunavant’s home on Mountain Road to the privately-owned Halifax Lofts apartments. Organizers subsequently met with town officials to work out arrangements that satisfied the town’s concerns for the safety of march participants.

The event is being organized by Halifax County South Boston Unity Project, whose membership includes Nevaeh Hodges, organizer of the June 2 Black Lives Matter rally in South Boston, local businessman Everett Thomas and attorney Elizabeth Blair Trent, wife of Halifax Council member Mike Trent.

Carlesa “Le Le” Jones Snead, a native of Halifax County who now works as an FBI agent, wrote a letter Thursday addressed to Halifax Mayor Dexter Gilliam and members of Town Council calling for Dunavant’s “termination” from office.

“As a private citizen, Mr. Dunavant has, under the Constitution that I defend, a right to speak his heart at will. And I’m glad he has, for we all deserve to know with whom we live amongst,” wrote Snead in her letter. “However, as a public elected official, his comments underscore a sickness in the belly of this place that you must choose to address for the perpetuity of righteousness and justice in this town.

“He has not broken the law, but he has broken the very basic core values that surely you uplift: fairness, compassion, diversity, morality, accuracy. The basics,” Snead continued.

Another person who has written Town Council on the matter, Cece Jones-Davis, referred to “Mr. Dunavant’s abhorrently racist opinion in the local paper” and said, “[s]imply stated, “Mr. Dunavant cannot represent a broad community of citizens with diverse backgrounds, nuances, and needs. He especially cannot be trusted to adequately address the needs and concerns of the county's most vulnerable, POOR populations.

“The Easley family, whom he refers to in the article” — Dunavant’s forebears — “were life-long next-door neighbors of my grandparents,” added Snead. “I can tell you that the image he portrays of 'the good ole' days' were not as good for the Easley family, no matter how he perceived it.”

Dunavant, contacted Friday for comment, was unrepentant about his letter.

“I think people have misread my intent in my letter to both papers,” he said. “My intent was to show the distress in the black family from liberal social policies … It hasn’t gotten better, it’s gotten worse.”

He defended his record on race relations, saying “I did not do this [write the letter] for any other reason than to improve the black community who I dearly love, especially the good black people. I think my record speaks for itself.

“I have a real desire to see the black community improve itself, and it can be done. I live here, I love this county. I love black people. I probably employ more black people than anybody around here, and I work in the ditch with them, shovel to shovel,” he said.

Dunavant blamed “all the problems” with race relations on “malcontents” and added, “I don’t know what you do with malcontents, but you don’t give into them.”

Referring to the original plan for the protest, Dunavant noted that organizers would have been marching past his home without a permit, “so the rally certainly isn’t legal.” However, “I don’t care about the legality of it in particular.”

He said he has welcomed many black friends and acquaintances to his Mountain Road residence, and “if they’re well behaved, they are welcome at my home,” referring to the marchers.

Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy confirmed that the march organizers have obtained a permit for the route from the farmers market to the end of Houston Street. For safety reasons stemming from courthouse construction, marchers will be asked to proceed on downtown sidewalks in front of Halifax businesses, across the street from the courthouse.

Parking will be available on Main Street in front of the Halifax library, next to Town Hall and along Blue Ridge Lane. Marchers will be accompanied along the route by Halifax Police Chief Stuart Comer and Sgt. Jamar Florence.

Members of the public are invited to take part in the rally, starting 6 p.m. Sunday in downtown Halifax.


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Comments

Mr. Dunavant has every right to express his thought in the Letter to the Editor. Much the same way that a distinguished member of our Halifax Co. School board was present at the last meeting wearing a BLM t shirt. I'm told that was a First Amendment Right. Were there protesters marching over that?

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Nothing this man said was "racists". Perhaps it was insensitive, but not racists.

He said "colored"? Since when is that racists? The term used today is "people of color", which is the same thing practically. NAACP - the CP stands for, you guessed it..COLORED PEOPLE...it is not offensive - if it was, the NAACP would have changed it. You woke folk are clearly looking for something to be outraged. African American out of wedlock births figure isn't altogether true. The figure is not 9 out of 10, but more like 7 out of 10, which is still to high. Everyone knows this is FACT. Everyone knows children do better with a DADDY in the home. That goes for blacks, whites, or any other race. Giving monetary incentives for moms to have kids out of wedlock is hurting the country - that is what Mr Dunavant was trying to say. You can't "remove" him from his elected position because he said something you don't agree with. This is ridiculous. If you don't like it, vote him out.

Comments

Time for Mr Dunavant to step down.
He is lost in the 1950s.

Comments

I support Mr. Dunavant! The school board member would have freaked out if another member wore a pro life or pro police shirt


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