Council President Establishes ‘Historical Remembrance’ Committee, Asks For Lynching Bill Deferral

Jul 17, 2018

Updated 7/18 at 2:15 p.m. 

Two weeks into his presidency, Aaron Bowman has established a “Historical Remembrance” committee and picked the seven Jacksonville City Council members who will serve on it.

According to a memo Bowman sent to council members on July 11, the committee is charged with in part advising how best to reflect Jacksonville history in its parks and public spaces.

His memo also asks his colleagues to defer a bill sponsored by former Council president Anna Lopez Brosche, that sets up a mechanism to claim a pillar recognizing Jacksonville’s seven lynching victims and relocate it in Hemming Park, where a Confederate monument also exists. Hundreds of southern cities in which 4,400 lynchings occurred have six-foot steel pillars available to them, through the Equal Justice Initiative.

‘I am asking that the Council defer Ordinance 2018-420 and any other legislation or policy that addresses the charge above until the Special Committee on Historical Remembrance has had an opportunity to consider all such matters,” Bowman’s memo reads.

Brosche, who is also on the committee, said in an email she's supportive of the opportunity for the committee fully informed about fully vet legislation and policies that will help tell the community's history. 

"I trust we will move forward swiftly and in good faith to carry out our charge and will allow the community at large to interpret motive and reasoning," she said.

Bowman said as 2018 represents the 50th anniversary of consolidation, it’s essential to reflect on the past.

“We must contemplate all that brought Jacksonville to this moment in time, and that should include recognition of a history that considers our diversity and the challenges we have overcome,” he said in the memo.

Other charges the committee is tasked with examining include advising on enhancing events or creating new ones to celebrate historical moments, evaluating policies that would help celebrate the diversity of Jacksonville’s people and working with city departments to improve public spaces that portraying the city’s history, and whether additional public spaces should be created.

Brosche who as Council president established a Civil Rights task force said she looks forward to working with the committee to help Jacksonville tell its entire history, and understand the role public spaces play in that process.

"Other communities in the Southeast have done a more effective job of educating themselves and future generations about their Civil Rights history, as well as leveraging such history for tourism," Brosche said. "Jacksonville should be doing the same."

The committee is scheduled to wrap up April 30, 2019.

The seven members serving on the committee are: Scott Wilson, Brosche, Greg Anderson, Terrance Freeman, Reggie Gaffney, Tommy Hazouri and Sam Newby.

Story updated with a response from Anna Lopez Brosche. 

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride.