The Perryville city council voted last week to form a committee to work on a redesign of the city’s logo, which currently includes images of the Confederate flag.
Perryville’s logo became a topic of discussion at the May council meeting, when Councilman Tim Simpson suggested putting up Perryville city flags between the American flags hanging along Second Street, according to a city Facebook post.
“It really never even crossed my mind as far as what it was and what it looked like,” Councilwoman Kelly Gray said in an interview Tuesday, until she took a good look at the city’s logo that night.
“I’m looking at the flag, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, we cannot do that,’” she said.
The logo has the words “Battle of Perryville October 8, 1862” and a circular landscape drawing that includes cannons and American and Confederate flags. Larger images of both flags flank the circular landscape.
Perryville, in Boyle County, was the site of a Civil War battle that left more than 7,600 soldiers dead, wounded or missing. Today, the battlefield is a state historic site popular with history buffs.
Stuart Arnold, who grew up in Perryville, designed the logo years ago while working at The (Danville )Advocate-Messenger. He said it was originally used as the cover art for a newspaper section promoting the first large-scale re-enactment of the Battle of Perryville, which brought visitors from around the country.
“It was really designed to be the cover for the tabloid section for the activity,” he said in an interview Tuesday night.
He said “people down there really liked it,” and began using it as a logo for the city.
As for the recent controversy, Arnold said, “there’s valid points on both sides.”
He pointed out that companies redesign their logos from time to time. “Even if it’s a history-focused piece, it needs an upgrade,” he said.
Arnold said Simpson is an artist, and “I would be honored if he would pick it up and take it to the next level.”
Gray said the current city flag is more a representation of the battlefield and the history associated with it than of the city of Perryville.
“It’s not ok as far as representing our town,” she said. “That’s just not the impression that we want to make.”
Gray said “there was a lot of backlash” to her questions about the logo.
The city conducted an informal poll on Facebook, asking whether residents supported hanging the city flags. Most people said they did.
“That’s really embarrassing,” Gray said. “...People are blind to how it could be hurtful or offensive to others.”
“A lot of people just have a strong reaction to change in general,” she said.
Simpson, the council member who had originally suggested hanging the city flags downtown, withdrew that motion at the council meeting last Thursday and made a new motion that the council form a committee to work on a new logo, according to The Advocate-Messenger. He suggested that the city work with Arnold to create new designs.
The newspaper reported that the council voted 5-1 in favor of the new motion. Both Simpson and Gray are on the design committee.
The Council on American Islamic Relations issued a statement Tuesday applauding the city council’s vote, along with decisions to move Confederate statues in Charlottesville, Va., and to remove an inscription honoring a Confederate soldier on the campus of the University of Virginia.
“The Confederacy’s legacy is one of anti-Black racism, slavery and white supremacy, and it must be repudiated, not celebrated or honored,” CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper said in a news release. “We welcome any effort to address past racism and move forward toward a more just and equitable society.”