Henry Ford did a lot for Richmond Hill. There is no disputing that.
But history shows Ford was indisputably anti-Semitic, and that bothers some Richmond Hill residents.
Among the most vocal is Dick Kent, a retired Army colonel who over the years has attempted to persuade Richmond Hill leaders to change the city’s "A Henry Ford City" slogan shown on road signs to something he believes would be less inflammatory to those of the Jewish faith who know their history.
In short, recognize the considerable contributions Ford made to Richmond Hill but stop short of wholesale endorsement of the man.
So far, those efforts have hit a brick wall. And Kent irked many residents when he erected a sign on I-95 in Florida last year urging motorists to drive past Richmond Hill because of its celebration of Ford.
That was the wrong way to deal with the issue, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an issue.
Indeed, it is one that is worthy of civil debate, not heated rhetoric.
Let’s remember that Richmond Hill’s history did not begin with Henry Ford. This community has a rich past dating back centuries, so why not emphasize it as well?
What’s more, one has to ask this question: If Henry Ford was known to be anti-black or anti-Catholic or anti-Southern Baptist, would Richmond Hill still be a "Henry Ford City?"
That is not an easy question to answer, but the bottom line is bigotry is what it is, no matter who it is directed at.
Because of that, this community needs to decide whether Ford’s role in the development of Richmond Hill not only overshadows his prejudice towards Jews – but also is so much more important than the rest of the historical record that it should be commemorated above all else.
Bryan County News