By Robert J. Hansen | Special to The OBSERVER
A handful of residents supported by the Sacramento NAACP voiced opposition to a Civil War reenactment at the Elk Grove City Council’s April 26 meeting.
“Civil War Days” is being presented by the Elk Grove Historical Society, the Linda Mae Mahon Lema Foundation and the Native Sons of the Golden West at Mahon Ranch on Grant Line Road the first weekend in May.
Longtime Elk Grove resident Phyllis Marshall saw a sign that read “Civil War Days” while driving down Elk Grove Boulevard a couple weeks ago.
“As an African American woman as a descendant of slaves … to see that we were hosting a Civil War day in Elk Grove was disturbing to me,” Marshall said. “All I could think of was Elk Grove was somehow involved in glorifying the Civil War and the Confederacy.”
Marshall said she is going to take up the issue with the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors because the ranch is outside the city limits. “Racial tension is at an all-time high and it saddens me that in this wonderful city, we are going to be hosting an event like that,” Marshall said.
Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen said the event is happening in Sacramento County and Elk Grove is not sponsoring or funding the event.
“In respect of those who are here, I stand in solidarity with you,” Singh-Allen said at the meeting.
The mayor said there is an opportunity for a conversation and that she will reach out to the organizer.
This will be the third annual Civil War Days held at Mahon Ranch, said Jim Entrican, chairman of the event and former president of the Native Sons of the Golden West.
“It pains me to see that some people don’t see what the Elk Grove Historical Society is trying to do by representing history,” Entrican said in a phone interview.
Entrician said the society is trying to tell the story of people who served in the war who are related to the people who own the Mahon Ranch. He said the historical society is not intending to glorify the Confederacy.
“I don’t know who is going to be glorifying the Confederacy,” Entrician said. “We have a very multicultural community. … Certainly we’re not promoting any hate and certainly not promoting slavery,” Entrician said.
Aliane Murphy-Hasan, former first vice president and lifetime member of the Sacramento NAACP, said the organization is concerned about safety, noise abatement and policing of the Civil War reenactment.
“Traffic and noise can and will disrupt and negatively impact families, businesses, recreational facilities and hospitals in the area,” Murphy-Hasan said.
The Sacramento NAACP requested that the City of Elk Grove use its influence with the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to cancel the event.
Sacramento County Supervisor Pat Hume, whose district the event is located in, has not responded to requests for comment.
Alana Mathews, a former candidate for Sacramento County District Attorney, was reminded of leading the 2017 Elk Grove town hall on racial reconciliation.
“We declared that Elk Grove is no place for hate,” Mathews said. “I stand here tonight again, against hate.”
Mathews said hate not only shows up in racial slurs, threats and harassment, but also masked under the guise of historical events.
“That [event] is only celebrating one of the most horrific institutions, and that is the institution of slavery,” Mathews said. “I would ask that you as leaders stand and make a statement that we are still no place for hate.”