Florida represented by Confederate general’s statue in U.S. Capitol; Democrat aims to get it removed

Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith’s statue representing Florida at the U.S. Capitol is slated for removal under a 2016 measure — but lawmakers haven’t picked a replacement.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, today urged Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature to meet in a special session in Tallahassee to make good on their 2016 decision to remove a statue of a Confederate general that represents Florida in the U.S. Capitol.

Chris King

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King, meanwhile, issued a call on his campaign Facebook page to “remove all the Confederate monuments in Florida.”

Symbols of the Confederacy have come under new scrutiny since Saturday’s deadly white supremacist march on Charlottesville, Va., which was triggered by the city’s planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

The Republican-controlled Florida House and Senate passed — and Scott signed — a bill in 2016 calling for the removal of the statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith from the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. But  lawmakers this year could not agree on a replacement statue, so the confederate general remains in the hall where each state gets to place two statues. Florida’s other statue is of air conditioning impresario John Gorrie.

A commission in 2016 recommended three Florida figures to potentially replace the Confederate statue: Educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune; Everglades preservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas or Publix founder George Washington Jenkins Jr.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

The Senate this year passed a bill for a Bethune statue. A House measure favoring Douglas stalled in committee.

“It’s time to stop playing games,” Wasserman Schultz declared in a news release today. “No family visiting our nation’s Capitol should have to explain to their child that the statue representing our state honors someone who fought for a philosophy built on hatred and oppression. Governor Scott and the Florida legislature must take immediate action by calling a one-day special session during their upcoming interim committee meetings to pass a bill with one of the three recommendations from the committee established by law…These three Floridians represent the best of the history of our state. The removal of the Confederate statue must be made an urgent priority.”




Author: George Bennett

George Bennett has been a Palm Beach Post reporter since 1992. He grew up in Bethesda, Md. and is a graduate of The George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @gbennettpost

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