Future of Women Of Southland Monument In Hands Of City Council

Future of Women Of Southland Monument In Hands Of City Council
Mayor Curry wants the now covered Women of the Southland monument removed from Springfield Park, but needs Council approval to pay for it.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s request to remove the ‘Women of the Southland’ monument from Springfield Park is in the hands of the City Council.

The Mayor introduced a bill to the Council on October 12 asking for $1.29 million to remove the statue and place it in storage until it can be decided what to do with it.  The cost does not include storage or any needed repairs.

Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes told council members no matter what one thinks about its history, the statue is a very valuable sculpture and given its size and weight, needs an intricate and detailed plan for its removal. “We can’t just trash an asset,” he said. “If this thing has some value in the marketplace or among art collectors we have to consider that.”

Members of the public from both sides of the issue have been expressing their views regarding Confederate monuments in Jacksonville for a couple of years, with the Women of the Southland being the latest flashpoint.

At a recent City Council meeting, Calvin Hart with Sons of the Confederate Veterans compared the statute to a recognition of Gold Star families.

“It represents women who during the war lost their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons,” he said. “They had no voice, they had no vote. They had no representation on either side. They just did their duty and sacrificed as wives and mothers.”       

Opponents of the statues say they are not from Confederate times but instead the Jim Crow era. Northside Coalition of Jacksonville Founder Ben Frazier said those who want to remove the statues are not radicals looking to divide the city. He said the city simply needs to move on from its past.

“It’s now time to decide if we’re going to remain a sleepy Southern town with Spanish Moss hanging from trees, not knowing what our real personality is, or whether we are going to take a bold step into a bright future,” Frazier said.   

The council will likely hear a lot from the public on both sides of the debate in the coming weeks as it has for several months, but Mayor Curry has said he wants the monument removed from public space.

The council is expected to vote on the cost of the removal in November.

By Kevin J. Meerschaert
Resident Community News

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