Letter — No room for hate in Farmville

Published 4:03 pm Thursday, April 7, 2022

To the Editor:

I came to Farmville in 2000 as a student at Longwood University. 22 years later, I refer to Longwood as my Disney World, and I am proud to call myself a “Townie,” as Farmville is my home. My friends teach at and send their children to Prince Edward County schools. I married a Farmville native, and we proudly support and frequent businesses owned and operated by our fellow “Farmvillians.” It’s been wonderful to see Farmville grow and expand over the last 22 years, and every fall when new young people arrive to attend Hampden-Sydney College and Longwood University, my heart swells as I hope they love Farmville as much as I do.

If you live in or near Farmville, or if you drive through Prince Edward County, you’ve likely seen the massive confederate flag that was erected over the first weekend in April. It’s hard to miss as it can be easily seen from Highway 460.

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While there is much discussion about the origin of the confederate flag as we know it today, and what it’s meant historically, I think we can all agree that it’s come to be a representation of bigotry, evil, hatred, narrowmindedness and racism. Just like the swastika was considered a positive symbol long before it was adopted by Adolf Hitler, what began as a symbol of well-being, life, and good luck is now universally recognized as a symbol of evil and hatred, and is even illegal in many countries. The confederate flag is no different.

My question is this. When did Farmville become a place that supports hatred and ignorance? When did this community become one to drive people away? When did this community become one to instill fear in its citizens? Because that is what’s being advertised by this flag, especially one as large as this and in this particular location. It was clearly erected by people who wish to alienate and spread hate. If this flag was smaller, and simply in someone’s front yard, while I would still strongly disagree with it, I could chalk it up to Freedom of Speech and go about my business of spreading kindness and love. The hate group, and the individuals who associate with it, who erected this massive flag on this extremely tall flagpole so close to a major highway clearly wants to drive out and keep out certain people, and to say “You’re not welcome here,” a sentiment of evil if I ever heard one.

But I don’t think that’s what Farmville stands for. I think Farmville stands for acceptance, visibility, love, and welcomes all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity or anything else that might make us beautifully different.

How can Farmville grow if we are alienating whole populations? How can this be a wonderful place to live if half of its citizens feel unsafe and unwelcome? How will our colleges thrive if we refuse to embrace people from a variety of backgrounds? If we want Farmville and Prince Edward County to continue to grow, to increase tourism, to attract college students, and to continue to be a wonderful place to live, we need to do better.

We need to promote love. We need to do this not only for visitors or newcomers, but for those for whom Farmville is home. I won’t stand for ignorance or hatred in my home, and my fellow Townies shouldn’t either. Those who seek to promote fear, hatred and evil should keep their racist symbols in their own narrow minded homes, while the rest of us will serve Farmville in love.

Jessi Edwards

Longwood ‘04