The newly-elected mayor of Jacksonville has allocated $500,000 in the Florida city’s budget to remove a monument dedicated to women who lost loved ones serving in the Confederate army.
Donna Deegan — a progressive Democrat who toppled her Republican opponent in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ backyard — had pledged to topple the monument and lined up the dollars to do so.
“We are looking at all potential options and Mayor Deegan remains committed to removing the Springfield Park monument,” her spokesperson, Philip Perry, tweeted.
Erected in 1915, the monument is one of the last Confederate memorials remaining in Jacksonville, the nation’s largest city in terms of contiguous land mass.
The six-foot sculpture — designed by New York-based artist Allen Newman — presents a woman holding open a Bible while flanked by two children.
“Let this mute but eloquent structure speak to generations to come, of a generation of the past,” a portion of the plaque reads.
Politically sensitive statues became a flashpoint cultural issue after the George Floyd protests in 2020, with groups nationwide demanding the removal of objectionable monuments — and in some cases removing them by force.
A former news local news anchor and staunch supporter of Black Lives Matter, Deegan spoke at a rally to remove all local Confederate monuments and said the city should rightly be “ashamed” of the Springfield Park statue as a civic blight.
Some locals have opposed the removal of Confederate statues in recent years, arguing that they retain value as reminders of the area’s complicated history.
Deegan’s predecessor, Republican Lenny Curry, also oversaw the removal of some Confederate statues but did not finalize the eradication of the Springfield statue.
Jacksonville’s first female mayor, Deegan hosted Vice President Kamala Harris for a speech last week.
Harris touched down to rail against elements in Florida’s education curriculum that critics say minimize the horrors of slavery by insinuating that the system had some peripheral benefits.
“Just yesterday in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” Harris said. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it.”
Conservative commentators have pushed back on that narrative, arguing that the controversy has been manufactured.
“I even read the statement of the African American scholars that wrote the standards, not [Gov.] Ron DeSantis, but the scholars,” pundit Scott Jennings said on CNN. “Everybody involved in this says this is completely a fabricated issue. And yet look how quickly Kamala Harris jumped on it.”
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