Keep rudeness out of Court Square

[RE: "$250 furor: Slave auction stirs passions," December 2]:

500 Court Square has been my home for 15 years. During that time, we have welcomed all into our neighborhood festival participants, historical re-enactors, concert goers, performance artists, street musicians, historic tour walkers, and the like.

There have been some instances of rudeness from visitors towards residents, but the Rev. Mark Beliles's behavior mystifies me. He knows better.

Regarding the Jeffersonian Thanksgiving Festival complete with a Revolutionary camp which took place literally in my front yard, I personally find it offensive to see slaves represented as free. Factually, there were no freed slaves during the time of the Revolution.

In 1775 over 800 indentured slaves fled Virginia and joined Lord Dunmore on the British side. Dunmore did not indiscriminately free the slaves. Only those able and willing to bear arms were invited to join him, not women, children, or those too old or infirm to fight. That does not translate into my confronting the Rev. Beliles and calling him a racist.

The Rev. Beliles's right to misrepresent history is ensured by the Constitution. That said, I consider the Rev. Beliles's presence in my neighborhood a privilege which he has sorely abused.

He may disagree with Anson Parker's and Scottie B. Williams's realistic reenactment of the slave block. But calling a black man, a son of slaves, a "racist" is intolerable to me.

The Charlottesville Albemarle County Conventions & Visitors Bureau describes the slave block as a place "where auctions of slaves took place" and says it "should serve as a reminder of the shameful and racist attitudes of the community during much of our early history." Well said!

In the spirit of Southern hospitality, I implore visitors to conduct themselves with civility. Name calling and rudeness are not acceptable in my neighborhood. Behave otherwise, and you are not welcome.

Virginia Valentine Coles
Historic Court Square