Jacksonville City Council drops bill seeking to remove Confederate statue

Carter Mudgett, Editor in Chief

Confederate Monument at Confederate Park in Jacksonville. Confederate Park was opened in 1907 as Dignan Park. The Confederate Monument honoring women of the Southland was dedicated in 1915. Credit to State Library and Archives of Florida.

The Jacksonville City Council voted Tuesday night to withdraw a bill that would have removed a Confederate monument from city property. The bill was filed by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry as part of his pledge in June 2020 that he would order the removal of all remaining public Confederate monuments throughout the city.

Nearly 90 people flocked to the stand during public comment to share their opinion, with both supporters and opposers of the bill in attendance. It appeared that there were more people opposing the bill than those who supported it. Many members of the opposition called the statue an important piece of history and that it honors all women of the South. 

Committee Chair Samuel Newby had to call a five-minute recess to clear spectators from the council chambers after multiple warnings. Journalists were allowed back in after, but the rest of the public had to watch through a TV in another room. 

But what is this monument that has people so up in arms? 

Called the “Monument to the Women of the Southerland,” it was erected in 1915 and stands in Springfield Park— formerly known as Confederate Park. Now, the statue is covered beneath a tarp to protect it from vandalism. 

“Monument to the Women of the Southland” covered in tarp and rope in Springfield Park on July 22, 2021. Photo courtesy of News4Jax.

The inscription on the monument is as follows:


In Memory of the Women of Our Southland

Let this mute but eloquent

structure speak to generations

to come, of a generation of

the past. Let it repeat

perpetually the imperishable

story of our women of the 60’s.

Those noble women who

sacrificed their all

upon their country’s altar.

Unto their memory, the Florida Division

of the United Confederate Veterans

affectionately dedicates this monument.

Bill 2021-0752

Introduced by the Council President at the request of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Oct. 12, the bill has undergone review through numerous committees before landing in front of the Council on Tuesday for its final reading. The bill was read by the Council a second time, on Oct. 26, before moving its way through three more committees. 

According to the bill’s official summary, “The Contractor will remove the Monument as carefully as possible to avoid damage. Once removed, the Monument will be placed in storage allowing for any plans that may be made for its disposition.” 

A full list of all the monuments Curry wanted removed can be found here, courtesy of the Florida Times-Union. 

Screenshot of a portion of Bill 2021-0752. Courtesy of the City of Jacksonville.

The bill calls on the Council to allocate $1.3 million that would go towards the careful removal of the monument to relocate it from public to private property. The City Council must vote on anything that costs more than $100,000. Read the whole bill here.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry speaks with News4Jax on Wednesday, Nov. 10, after the Jacksonville City Council voted 12-6 to withdraw the bill. Courtesy of News4Jax.

With this hefty price tag, numerous Council members were concerned about the use of such a large portion of taxpayer money. A floor amendment that would have dropped the cost to $990,000 was proposed but failed. Two other propositions to postpone the Council review date were also made but also failed. 

“This is another thing that’s political, that’s dividing us, pushing it down the road. We’ve got a lot to fix in the city,” said Councilmember Al Ferraro about the bill. “We need to focus on core functions, trash, recycling.”

Taking the opposite opinion, other members of the Council discussed the importance of addressing this bill in the here and now. Councilmember Matt Carlucci emphasized the importance of being on the “right side of history” and how, even though it’s tough, these difficult decisions are part of the job.  

“We must address this issue. If we don’t we’re not doing our jobs,” voiced Carlucci.

Nearing the Council’s final decision, Councilmember Garrett L. Dennis launched into a passionate response to the proposal to withdraw. 

“We’re taking the coward route by kicking this down the road and withdrawing. . . We are running and ducking our tails as cowards tonight, and that is unfortunate,” said Dennis, “I cannot support the withdraw, let’s vote it up and down.”

Picture of the withdrawal vote results as displayed on the Council meeting live stream Tuesday, Nov. 9. (Carter Mudgett)

12-6 was the final vote that brought an end to nearly two hours of heated debate. Mayor Curry showed his disappointment in the Council’s decision on Twitter that same evening. 

Spinnaker reached out to the UNF Black Student Union, UNF’s Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the UNF African American Faculty and Staff Association (AAFSA), and Councilmember Danny Becton for comment but received no response by the time of publication. 


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