Despite removals, Florida still in Top 10 with 62 Confederate memorials
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 tenth in the number of remaining memorials with 62.
The findings come as Florida’s most vocal resident, President Trump, continues to fire up the rhetoric in defense of monuments and landmarks honoring Confederate leaders who betrayed the United States to fight a war to perpetuate slavery.
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%.
Two more 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 said 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 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.
However, President Trump remains outspoken and steadfast in support of preserving Confederate symbols.
He has threatened to reject a military spending bill that calls for renaming U.S. bases named after Confederate generals. And on July 3, in a speech at Mount Rushmore, the president said “angry mobs” advocating a “new far-left fascism” seek to “tear down statues of our founders” in a “campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.”
On Monday, he fired off a scorching tweet against Nascar driver Bubba Wallace. The 26-year-old driver’s call for prohibiting Confederate flags at Nascar events prompted the auto racing association to issue the ban before the Dixie Vodka 400 race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway last month.
Federal law enforcement investigated the presence of a noose found in Wallace’s garage at the Talladega, Alabama racetrack last month, but concluded a crime had not been committed.
Trump raised that issue, and the Confederate flag ban, in a tweet Monday suggesting Wallace “apologize” to Nascar’s drivers and officials.
“Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!” Trump wrote.
Wallace responded to Trump’s missive with his own tweet urging everyone to “always deal with the hate being thrown at you with LOVE.”
His statement concluded: “Love over hate every day. Love should come naturally as people are taught to hate. Even when it’s hate from POTUS ... Love wins.”
Trump’s views aside, efforts to remove odes to Florida’s Confederate and antebellum past have been ongoing for the better part of two decades.
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, Florida 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:
South Carolina (194)
North Carolina (160)