Legislation to replace a statue of a Confederate general representing Florida in the U.S. Capitol is heading to the Senate floor.
“Dr. Bethune received the unanimous vote of the members of the Great Floridians Committee during the selection process for a new representative,” said Sen. Perry Thurston, the Broward County Democrat sponsoring the effort.
“And so I was extremely encouraged with the similar vote today in the Senate Rules Committee,” he added. “It’s time we installed in Washington a statue that not only reflects Florida’s diversity, but the accomplishments on which we pride ourselves as a state. Dr. Bethune’s replica will stand as a shining example of both.”
Identical legislation is currently moving through committees in the House, Thurston said.
Related legislation died last Legislative Session. One called for a likeness of Bethune to replace Smith; another proposed a statue of environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, author of “The Everglades: River of Grass,” to take Smith’s place.
Each state has two statues on display in the Capitol. Florida’s other statue, a marble rendering of scientist-inventor Dr. John Gorrie of Apalachicola, a pivotal figure in the invention of air conditioning, is unaffected.
The move to replace Smith’s statue came after renewed debate about Confederate symbols, including the battle flag ubiquitous in the South.