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The Jaxson On WJCT: What Should Happen To Jacksonville's Confederate Monuments?

Bill Bortzfield
"A tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederacy" greets visitors to Jacksonville's Confederate Park

The city of Jacksonville will be removing its Confederate monuments and markers, the mayor announced last week.

So what should happen to them next?

Ennis Davis and Bill Delaney with the Jaxson weigh in on this edition of The Jaxson on WJCT.

Mayor Curry hasn't said what's going to happen with the monuments that are taken down. What do you think should happen to them?

Ennis Davis: Two examples in Central Florida would be the cities of Lakeland and Orlando. City leaders made a decision to relocate their Confederate monuments out of their downtown parks into historic cemeteries near the location of Confederate graves.

Is that something that we could do here in Jacksonville?

ED: It is certainly something that we could do here in Jacksonville. We already have examples of Civil War monuments, memorials in cemeteries. For example, our oldest Civil War monument is actually dedicated to the Union. And that monument is located in Evergreen Cemetery.

Bill Delaney: There's also a pretty big Confederate grave presence already in the Old City Cemetery Downtown, which is on city property. Personally, I'd also like to see if there's a way to put them at a museum like MOSH. You know, they're more a record of the way the people in power in the decades later chose to remember the war than they had to do with anything about the war itself.

ED: The majority of Jacksonville Civil War monuments were erected around between the 1890s and up into the early 20th century.

BD: The union monument was already there up in Evergreen Cemetery, and so Charles C. Hemming came down and donated this much bigger, much more prominent Confederate memorial right in the middle of the city.

What do you think about this decision by the mayor to have all of the Confederate monuments removed?

BD: I think that to an extent, it was about the only way forward right now. Several years ago, there were discussions of, people wanted to remove them, or they wanted to recontextualize them. Those discussions didn't really go anywhere. And so now we're in a historical moment that, really, action was demanded.

ED: From my perspective as a seventh generation Black Floridian, I do agree from a, I guess, a racial history perspective that they should be relocated in many instances. I do think you have to look at each memorial and site individually in his own historical merits of why they were erected. But I would also argue that if the city did not make a decision to remove them, given the current state of the country, all of those will be vandalized at some point anyway, so even the idea of removal is a way to protect them and any artistic value they may have. 

BD: The context that these monuments were built in and the context of why they've stayed there for so long, isn't going away just because they're taken down. And also a lot of the other problems that protesters are demonstrating over are not going to be fixed just by removing these monuments. And the real question is, what do you do on the really hard in-depth stuff?

ED: I would say the main thing is inclusiveness, right? So, we have a city built on more than a century of systemic institutionalized racist policies. Whatever we do, true equity and true inclusiveness has to be on the table.


Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP