‘Confederate Heritage Month’ billboard sparks controversy

PADUCAH – There are strong feelings involving a billboard in Paducah.

Local 6 talked with the person behind the billboard who says it’s the group’s right to put it up and to another person who says, take it down.

Julian Robinson with McCracken County Democrats grew up seeing Confederate flags in Paducah.

“It leaves me an idea of uncertainty around here,” Robinson said.

But this is the first confederate billboard he’s seen. He says both are offensive.

“We have some family members that were owned by slavery. Some of them was former confederates but that’s just the ugly part of history,” Robinson said. “And as history goes on we’re still gonna have ugly parts of history that we need to face and continue to strive to do better on. It really left a nasty taste in my mouth because it really shouldn’t have been up there.”

Robinson says the billboard should come down and it doesn’t represent Paducah.

“How do you stop the mentality of this and how do you stop it from spreading?” Robinson said.

Confederate Heritage Month is not nationally recognized.  Only seven former Confederate states recognize it. Kentucky was not a Confederate state.

Randy Beeler with the Sons of Confederate Veterans says the billboards were not set up to insult anyone.

“We have rights,” Beeler said. “It’s up there because we have rights. We have been beaten down with politics our voices not being heard nobody cares.”

Beeler says that’s why he put up the billboard, he wants the public to know “We’re here.”

“April is Confederate Heritage Month, now what is insulting about that?” Beeler said. “See, because we don’t believe that the war was fought over slavery we believe the war was fought over taxation. This just says Confederate Heritage Month, and if you don’t want to look at it, you probably don’t need to be staring at it or you’ll have a wreck, just drive by it.”

It’s on display ahead of one of Paducah’s biggest events of the year, the AQS Quilt show.

That’s when tens of thousands of people travel here from across the country and around the world.

The quilt show organizer tells us they don’t involve themselves in politics, but they say everyone has a right to free speech.

There are actually two of those billboards in Paducah, one across the street from the entrance to Noble Park and the other one is between 3rd and 4th Street, on Oscar Cross Avenue.