Article originally published at WJCT.org
As the large Robert E. Lee statue was taken down in Richmond, Va., this week, local advocates are calling on Mayor Lenny Curry to keep his word and get rid of all the monuments honoring the Confederacy in Jacksonville.
About a year ago, Mayor Curry ordered that the Confederate statue in what was then called Hemming Park (now James Weldon Johnson Park) be taken down, saying that all Confederate monuments in Jacksonville would be removed.
“It’s gone,” Curry said after the statue of an unnamed Confederate soldier was removed from its pedestal overlooking the park in front of City Hall. “And the others in this city will be removed as well.”
Ben Frazier with the Northside Coalition advocacy group says the Monument to the Women of the Confederacy in Springfield Park should be removed next. It was one of several Confederate monuments slated to be removed on a list released by the city in June of 2020.
“This is supposed to be a park for everyone, and instead we have this heinous and horrific monument that represents the Civil War. A war fought to keep my people in chains. A war fought to perpetuate slavery and white supremacy,” he said. “It is not about metal, marble or stone — that is not our fight — but rather what these monuments represent.”
Frazier believes the Monument to the Women of the Confederacy is the last major Confederate monument still standing in Jacksonville. The monument sits in what has been renamed Springfield Park, which serves as the entrance to Springfield, just north of Downtown Jacksonville.
When the park first opened in 1907, it was named Dignan Park after a chairman of the Board of Public Works. In 1914 Dignan Park became the site of the Confederate Veterans’ annual reunion. Five months after that reunion of some 8,000 former Confederate soldiers, and nearly 50 years after the Civil War came to an end, the city renamed the site Confederate Park. The Monument to the Women of the Confederacy, which was commissioned by the Florida Division of United Confederate Veterans, was erected the next year “in memory of the women of the Southland.”
On August 11, 2020, the Jacksonville City Council passed a bill renaming Confederate Park to Springfield Park.
The Northside Coalition plans to continue holding protests until the city acts and takes the monument down, with the next rally scheduled to be held at City Hall at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
WJCT News reached out to City Hall for a comment on this story.
“We have no updates or comments at this time,” the mayor’s spokeswoman Nikki Kimbleton responded via email.
Article by Brendan Rivers at WJCT.org. Brendan Rivers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers