Nestled in the cradle of Northern Virginia between the Potomac River and the rolling-hilled farms and wineries to the West, lies Prince William County. The county was home to some of the most important areas during the American Civil War to both the Confederacy and the Union. Located some thirty miles from the Union Capital of Washington DC and 100 miles from the Confederate Capital of Richmond, Prince William County was a strategic point each side of the war hoped to control. The battles at Manassas and Bull Run are studied by nearly every young child who attends public school, no matter where they live in this country.
My name is Jamie Beletz and I live in Prince William County, but this feature story is not about me – it’s about Prince William County. In the 150 years since the American Civil War ended, it has been known by many other names. The War of Southern Independence, the War of Northern Aggression, the Freedom War, War Between the States, the War of Secession are just a few names that have been bestowed on this war. If you are from around these parts, you will choose the name that best reflects the side your family was on – Confederate, Union or Slave – and if you aren’t from around here like me, you are best to just call it civil. But let me tell you right here and now that this war still rages on 150 years later in Prince William County and it is anything but civil.
More than half of the 500,000 people that live in Prince William County are members of a minority. Prince William County is an enclave of diversity: African-American, Latino-American, Asian American and others. Sikh, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Evangelical, Catholic, Unitarian, Bahai. Prince William County has a significant LGBTQ community. Any way you slice it, Prince William County is a “minorities in the majority” county and it is a bell weather of civil discord and civil unrest.
Let’s not forget for one minute that the people who made up the Confederacy were not and are not Americans. They ceased to be Americans when they opted for the enslavement of human beings. They ceased to be Americans when they opted for violent bigotry and grotesque racism. They ceased to be Americans when they declared war on America.
Today, the battle between the red, white and blue Americans and the ill-bred, the white and the blue who make up the Confederacy rages on in Prince William County. However, the political landscape looks much different than it has for decades. Ironically, while Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the electoral college, Clinton soundly trounced Donald Trump by 20 percentage points in Prince William County. First came the self-destruction of Alt Right Confederate leader Corey Stewart along with his “Unite the Right” supporters after 16 years of Stewart tyranny.
Suddenly, the hot sparks of victory still fresh in the hearts and minds of the Americans on Election Day 2019, the Confederacy of Prince William County came a tumblin’ down like a hot knife through butter as America came away with a 5-3 majority led by four African American leaders. Justice prevails. But does it?
I’m Jamie Beletz, it’s not about me and next time its’ about….
#2 – The Prince William County Board of County Supervisors