Rebel yell: Confederate statue bill moves to full Senate


Legislation to replace a statue of a Confederate general representing Florida in the U.S. Capitol is heading to the Senate floor.

The bills (SB 472, SCR 184), which cleared their final committee Thursday, would replace the likeness of Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith with educator and civil-rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune.

“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.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Mary Stevens

    January 11, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    This is absolutely stupid as it gets. If I hear the word diversity one more time, I think that I will hurl. General Kirby Smith was an extremely accomplished General, man, officer in the Mexican-American War, educator, West Point graduate, and expanded the telegraph business. There is clearly a PC effort especially in Florida to erase history. This lady named Dr Bethune seems to be very accomplished but don’t replace General Edmund Kirby Smith to accomplish some diversity quota.

  • Dennis Cotner

    January 11, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Never thought I would live long enough to see Americans of any kind so willing to remove statue art work. Quit treating these monuments as though they are going to make you into a racing Confederate. They aren’t. These are our ancestors and we honour them for defending us in time of war. You have no shame if you remove them.

  • With Empathy

    January 12, 2018 at 1:10 am

    Mary Stevens, we’re better off when we don’t call opposing views stupid. I, like a majority of Floridian citizens, do not want our state represented by a man who fought to enshrine the early American practice of human trafficking. The removal of the Confederate’s likeness has nothing to do with a diversity quota; it is an acknowledgement that our history of slavery was wrong. While we will always remember this history and teach our children about our past mistakes, we do not want to enshrine the people who fought to oppress and enslave. That is a crucial distinction.
    As for the choice of Dr. Bethune, her accomplishments speak for themselves. Rep. Thurston referred to the choice as reflecting the diversity of our State–which is an advantage to this choice–not as the definitive reason she was chosen.

  • Robert craig

    January 12, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    We will pull that bitch down every chance we get, fuck diversity. Diversity means genocide to white people
    Fuck that woman ststue, she aint shit compared to the general.

    • Abby

      January 16, 2018 at 1:23 pm

      Mr. Craig, your comments reflect your fear of losing identity and your insecurity surrounding having to face the fact that white privilege exists and is being called out onto the floor in a huge way. If losing the foothold of white privilege dominating our businesses, schools and government is the same as the meaning of diversity to you, then perhaps it’s time to talk less and read/listen more. The people have spoken and the mountain WILL FALL.

Comments are closed.


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