UNITED STATES NEWS

Sign of the times? History marker for communist draws anger

May 5, 2023, 9:57 AM

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A historical marker dedicated to a New Hampshire labor activist who championed women’s rights and was a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union — but who also joined the Communist Party and was sent to prison — has draw objections from Republican officials and scrutiny from the governor.

Known as “The Rebel Girl” for her fiery speeches, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was born in Concord in 1890. A green and white Historical Highway Marker dedicated to her, one of 278 across the state, was unveiled Monday near her birthplace.

In addition to her rights activism, the marker also says she joined the Communist Party in 1936 and was sent to prison in 1951. She was one of many party members prosecuted “under the notorious Smith Act,” the marker says, which forbade any attempts to advocate, abet or teach the violent destruction of the U.S. government.

Flynn later chaired the Communist Party of the United States and she died in Moscow during a visit in 1964, at age 74. She was cremated, and her ashes were taken on a “flower-decked bier” to Red Square during a funeral tribute, according to Associated Press accounts at the time.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is calling for a review of the state’s historical marker program.

“This is a devout communist,” said Joseph Kenney, a Republican member of the Executive Council, at a regular meeting Wednesday. “We are the ‘Live Free or Die’ state. How can we possibly promote her propaganda, which still exists now through this sign in downtown Concord?”

David Wheeler, a Republican who’s also part of a five-member Executive Council that votes on state contracts and Sununu’s department appointees, said he wanted the council to have more oversight of the historical marker process.

Sarah Stewart, the commissioner for the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, said at the meeting that the marker program is very popular “because it’s initiated at the local level. There is no state top-down effort to populate the state with historical highway markers.”

There are “many potentially controversial” markers, Stewart said. “The purpose of them is not to commemorate heroes. The purpose is to provide a snapshot that the local community feels is of historic value.”

Any person, municipality or agency can suggest a marker as long as they get 20 signatures from New Hampshire residents. Supporters must draft the marker’s text and provide footnotes and copies of supporting documentation, according to the state Division of Historical Resources. The division and a historical resources advisory group evaluate the criteria.

The sign was approved last year by the Concord City Council following a recommendation from the marker program, which is jointly administered by the Historical Resources Division and the Transportation Department. It currently stands at the edge of a parking lot near the county courthouse.

Flynn is “one of the most significant radical leaders of the twentieth century,” the marker’s supporters said in a letter to City Council last year. The sign also notes Flynn’s support for women’s voting rights and for access to birth control.

Historical markers run the gamut, telling stories about the last living Revolutionary War soldier, poets and painters who lived nearby, long-lost villages and contemporary sports figures.

“We’re going to review the whole process,” Sununu said at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I completely agree with the sentiment here,” the governor said, adding, “It’s the state marker. You can’t say we don’t have any responsibility in terms of what it says and where it goes.”

Stewart, the natural and cultural resources commissioner, sent a letter Thursday to Concord’s mayor saying the city can “reevaluate your approval of this marker,” New Hampshire Public Radio reported. Mayor Jim Bouley did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment Friday.

One marker from 2011 that was brought up during Wednesday’s meeting celebrates the 50th anniversary of the “Betty and Barney Hill incident,” during which the couple reported a close encounter with a UFO. Their experience was described in a best-selling book, a television movie, and numerous speaking engagements.

“The UFO one I’m gonna live with,” said Kenney, the Executive Council member. “That’s a funny story.”

___

Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this story.

United States News

Emergency personnel arrive on the scene after a  an 18-wheeler crashed into the Texas Department of...

Associated Press

1 dead and 13 injured after semitrailer intentionally crashed into Texas public safety office

A driver rammed an 18-wheeler though the front of a building where his renewal for a commercial driver’s license had been rejected.

16 minutes ago

Associated Press

Officer who fatally shot Kawaski Trawick 5 years ago won’t be disciplined, police commissioner says

NEW YORK (AP) — Two New York City police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Kawaski Trawick inside his Bronx apartment five years ago will not face internal discipline, the city’s police commissioner, Edward Caban, announced Friday. In a statement, Caban said the officers, Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis, “acted within the law” in […]

29 minutes ago

Associated Press

Dallas doctor convicted of tampering with IV bags linked to co-worker’s death and other emergencies

DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas anesthesiologist was convicted Friday for injecting a nerve-blocking agent and other drugs into bags of intravenous fluid at a surgical center where he worked, which led to the death of a co-worker and caused cardiac emergencies for several patients, federal prosecutors said. A jury convicted Raynaldo Riviera Ortiz Jr., 60, […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Maine governor signs bill restricting paramilitary training in response to neo-Nazi’s plan

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A bill to restrict paramilitary training in Maine in response to a neo-Nazi who wanted to create a training center for a “blood tribe” was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Friday. The law, which the governor signed without public comment, allows the attorney general to file for […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

New York county loses bid to prevent state legal challenge of its ban on female transgender athletes

NEW YORK (AP) — A county outside New York City has lost its bid to block the state from taking legal action against its ban on women’s and girls teams that include female transgender players, state Attorney General Letitia James said Friday. U.S. District Court Judge Nusrat Choudhury dismissed Nassau County’s lawsuit seeking to prevent […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Urgent care worker accused of sexual assaults while claiming falsely to be a nurse in Philly suburbs

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A dozen additional victims have told police they were victimized by a medical assistant who falsely said he was nurse when they sought treatment in recent months at an urgent care facility outside Philadelphia, police said in filing new sexual assault charges. Ramon Garcia, 33, was accused on Thursday of two […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Sign of the times? History marker for communist draws anger