Thursday, March 29, 2007

By Amanda Casciaro

Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writer

MARIETTA – A proclamation Cobb Commissioner Annette Kesting presented to the Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans on Tuesday has sparked mixed reactions from south Cobb residents.

The board’s sole black representative said Wednesday she’s not sure why the proclamation, which honors those who served in the Confederate states and encourages public education on Confederate history, has led to such an uproar.

Ms. Kesting said since Tuesday night’s commission meeting she’s taken about a half-dozen calls and e-mails about the attention she’s captured for presenting the proclamation.

"I’m just an African-American and I signed it like all the other commissioners," said Ms. Kesting. "We have Black History Month. We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and others celebrate it. I just can’t see where there’s a problem."

Dan Coleman, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, acknowledged that debate still wages over what Confederate forces were fighting for, but said the proclamation honors Southern heritage, not the political motives of the South during the Civil War.

Coleman also said several cities and counties in the state honor Confederate history in April, which has become the traditional month to do so. Despite that precedent, the Legislature on Tuesday nixed a plan to permanently designate April as Confederate History and Heritage Month in Georgia.

The proclamation states, "Our country is a nation of people united by a common history, individual heritage and diverse cultures; and Cobb County is rich in the history of the War Between the States; being the site of several battles and having been greatly affected by the events of the war and its aftermath."

Ms. Kesting has presented the proclamation to the Confederate group since she took office in 2004, with Tuesday marking her fourth year. The "tradition" has existed long before she earned the seat, she said.

"These men live in my district. A lot of their families live in Mableton," she said. "When you’re in a position like this you can’t keep a closed mind."

The commissioner said she’s attended a Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans meeting, eaten pizza with its members, watched a film detailing their ancestor’s role in the war and has talked to several of its members on different occasions.

"I don’t look at them as racially (motivated) or promoting slavery," Ms. Kesting said. "We need to respect one another’s history."

The proclamation honors the 200th anniversary of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthday and names April 26 Confederate Memorial Day in Cobb County.

Copyright © 2007 Marietta Daily Journal

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