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Despite removals, Florida still in Top 10 with 62 Confederate memorials

Staff Writer
Walton Sun
Walton Sun

A data analysis by a research firm has listed Florida as third-fastest in the removal of monuments to its Confederate past. But the state still ranks 10th in the number of remaining memorials with 62.

The tally by BeenVerified.com was based on 2019 data from the Southern Poverty Law Center plus 2020 media coverage of efforts to remove the statues and markers, the organization said.

BeenVerified said its count shows Florida has removed 23% of its Confederate memorials, just behind Maryland, which has displaced 70%, and California, which has jettisoned 50%.

>>READ: As America again looks at symbols, Florida Capitol’s Confederate memorial remains

Two of Florida’s existing Confederate monuments, however, have bull’s eyes on them now.

Last month, the St. Augustine city commission voted 3-2 to remove a 141-year-old obelisk, located in the Plaza de la Constitucion, that lists names of area men who died fighting for the Confederacy.

Also in June, Pensacola city officials started the process of removing a monument dedicated to soldiers who died in the war as well as leaders of the Confederacy. The city’s mayor has also he would like to see Lee Square, renamed after Robert E. Lee in the 1880s, changed back to its original name, Florida Square.

In addition, there have been calls to remove a Confederate marker in front of the Florida’s historic capitol building in Tallahassee.

The efforts to erase memorials to the state’s Confederate past have been reignited in the wake of the national Black Lives Matter protests following high-profile and shocking cases of police brutality toward Black Americans.

Efforts to remove odes to Florida’s Confederate past are not new in Florida, however.

A year ago, Gov. Ron DeSantis requested the swapping out of a statue representing Florida in the U.S. Capitol. DeSantis asked that the previous statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith in National Statuary Hall be replaced with one of legendary educator Mary McLeod Bethune.

Speaking at Bethune-Cookman University last Wednesday, DeSantis acknowledged that the change in statues was ordered by the Legislature but “we were the ones that sent word to the Congress” to enact the change.

“Mary McLeod Bethune is really someone who really should be an inspiration to everyone in the state of Florida,” he said.

In 2017, following an uproar over a white supremacist rally in Virginia, West Palm Beach officials removed a monument to Confederate dead from the city-owned Woodlawn Cemetery.

In 2008, the Florida Legislature designated "Florida, Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky" as the state’s official anthem. That replaced “Swanee River,” a song whose original lyrics included racist language.

And in 2001, the state removed the Confederate flag that flew on the state’s capitol grounds.

Florida was the third of seven original states to secede from the Union and form the Confederate States of America after the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as president. After the defeat of the Confederacy, Florida was readmitted to the Unites States in June of 1868.

The states with the most remaining symbols honoring the Confederacy:

Virginia (232)

Texas (202)

Georgia (198)

South Carolina (194)

North Carolina (160)

Mississippi (147)

Alabama (121)

Tennessee (98)

Louisiana (84)

Florida (62)

Source: BeenVerified.com