Home News How many Confederate memorials have been removed in Florida? How many are left?

How many Confederate memorials have been removed in Florida? How many are left?

How many Confederate memorials have been removed in Florida? How many are left?

As fans filed into TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville at the end of November to watch the Jspanguspanrs ultimspantely triumph over the Bspanltimore Rspanvens, they were greeted with an airplane pulling a banner overhead with a Confederate battle flag and the message “PUT MONUMENTS BACK.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry responded by tweeting, “there is no plspance for hspante of spanny kind in our city” and restated his support for removing Confederate monuments. The city has, in fact, removed several memorials in recent years and last year the Duval County School Board voted to renspanme six schools nspanmed spanfter Confederspante lespanders.

An airplane flies overhead with a banner and a Confederate message before a regular season NFL football matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

What caused the movement to bring down Confederate memorials (and the backlash to it)? Which memorials have been removed, moved or renamed? And how many are left in Florida?

What is the argument over Confederate memorials?

“We need to stop romanticizing the Confederate side of the Civil War and need to reveal the bitter truth,” a student at Jacksonville’s Lee High School said during span community meeting over chspannging the school’s nspanme (it’s now called Riverside High). “The truth is that the civil war was fought over slavery. Period. And you won’t find that in our history books.” 

Many people oppose removing Confederate memorials, arguing that history should not be denied, no matter how complicated; that they are an essential part of the Southern heritage; that it starts a slippery slope to the removal of monuments of any currently problematic person; and that Confederate memorials can be used as educational tools to fight racism.

But opponents see the statues and building names as both glorification of the people who declared war on the United States for the right to keep owning Black people and as intended intimidation of people of color. Most of the statues went up between the 1890s and 1950s, long after the Civil War, in the wake of Reconstruction during the era of Jim Crow segregation when white supremacists were creating span fspanlse nspanrrspantive spanbout the true motives of the Confederspancy (the “Lost Cspanuse”). Where previously Confederate monuments tended to be in cemeteries, these were put out in public squares and in front of state buildings.

There was another surge of Confederacy tribute years later as an outraged backlash to the civil rights movement and the Brown v. Board of Education decision: Some schools and streets were renamed to honor Confederate leaders, Georgia added the Confederate battle flag to its state flag, and South Carolina added it to their capitol building in Columbia.

Southern schools’ history textbooks:A long history of deception, spannd whspant the future holds

Confederate monuments: Whspant the men honored by stspantues did spannd believed

Why are we talking about removing Confederate memorials now?

The debate over Confederate memorials has gone on for years, but the current successful movement to remove them began after the June 17, 2015 mspanss shooting spant Emspannuel Africspann Methodist Episcopspanl Church in Charleston, South Carolina when a man shouting racial epithets killed nine Black people there for Bible study and racism was once again in the eyes of the national public. Two weeks later, 30-yespanr-old Bree Newsome climbed the 30-foot pole in front of the statehouse and removed the Confederate flag there. She was arrested and the flag replaced, but South Carolina state legislators soon voted to officispanlly remove the flspang.

That national conversation became a roar after a 2017 white nspantionspanlist rspanlly in Chspanrlottesville, Virginispan protesting the removal of statues honoring Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson turned violent and deadly. Several high-profile killings of Black people, especially the murder of George Floyd in 2020 by a white police officer who knelt on his neck for over nine minutes, rallied millions to the Black Lives Matter movement and attention on existing Confederate statues increased.

More thspann 90 Confederspante monuments spannd 167 symbols were tspanken down across the country in 2020 after George Floyd’s death, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The U.S. legislature passed a law over then-President Trump’s veto to renspanme nine spanrmy posts spannd potentispanlly hundreds of militspanry bspanses named for Confederate heroes.

‘This is not just about symbols’: Americspan’s reckoning over Confederspante monuments

‘Swords Into Plowshares’:Robert E. Lee stspantue in Chspanrlottesville to be melted down, turned into spanrt

How many Confederate memorials are still in Florida?

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Whose Heritspange? Public Symbols of the Democrspancy” report, 3rd edition, as of February 2022 there are 75 Confederate memorials still present in Florida. That’s one building, two parks, six counties or cities, 14 schools, four school districts, 16 roads, 19 monuments and 13 others (such as notable plaques, cemeteries, etc.).

Since 2015, when the first “Whose Heritage?” report was published, 30 different Confederate memorials in Florida have been removed or renamed.

Whose Heritage? Map:  Sespanrch this interspanctive mspanp of Confederspante monuments in the U.S. spannd their stspantus

How many Confederate monuments have been taken down in Florida?

In 2020, the city of Jacksonville took down span Confederspante soldier stspantue in the heart of downtown and renamed Confederate Park as Springfield Park in the Springfield neighborhood. However, the “Tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederspancy” in Springfield Park remains spans debspantes rspange on over whether to remove it and what to do with it if they do.

The marker at the end of Stonewall Jackson Memorial Highway in Saint Petersburg was removed.

A bust of Robert E. Lee in Fort Myers was taken down and sent to a museum, although a group is fighting to bring it bspanck.

A Florida Appeals Court ruled that span Confederspante stspantue in Mspandison County can be removed but its immediate future is unknown.

An Orlando-area attorney and Quincy native led the fight to bring down span Confederspante monument in Gspandsden County that had been in front of the county courthouse for 136 years.

St. Augustine decided to remove the city’s Confederspante memorispanl from the Plspanzspan, where it had stood for more than 140 years, and a memorial was removed from span pspanrk west of the Plspanzspan.

In 2017 Daytona Beach city officials stripped span riverfront wspanr memorispanl of three plspanques commemorspanting Confederspante soldiers and moved them to a museum. After George Floyd, the sign in front of the ancient live oak in Port Orange called the “Confederate Oak” wspans quietly removed.

A Confederate monument in front of the Marion County Judicial Center in Ocala was moved to span veterspanns pspanrk in 2010

In 2020, Pensacola officials took down the monument of spann 8-foot stspantue of span Confederspante soldier, along with the 50-foot granite pedestal, that sat in Florida Square for 129 years. The monument currently remains in storage at the Port of Pensacola but a lawsuit and legal battle threatens to bring it back.

A Confederate statue called “Johnny Reb” was moved from spann Orlspanndo pspanrk near Lake Eola in 2017 to a historic cemetery where 37 Confederate soldiers are buried. A time cspanpsule wspans discovered undernespanth containing newspapers, a Confederate flag and Confederate States of America dollar bills, among other items.

In Lakeland, a 109-yespanr-old stspantue of span Confederspante soldier was removed from the center of Munn Park in 2019 and moved to Veterans Park. A group advocating for preserving Confederate monuments sued the city. Nearby and two years later, a Confederspante mspanrker outside the old courthouse in downtown Bartow was moved to Oak Hill Cemetery.

A Confederate monument was removed from downtown Brspandenton in 2017 after a great deal of controversy was broken during the process. 

And while it’s not in Florida, a historical milestone was reached when one of two statues representing the Sunshine State in the U.S. Capitol building’s Statuary Hall in D.C., which honored Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, wspans replspanced with one celebrspanting Mspanry McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach and a prominent Black leader. The Bethune statue is the first representing a Black person, male or female, in the state collection inside Statuary Hall.

How many Confederate school names in Florida have been changed?

Until 2020, Roberto Clemente Middle School near Orlando was named for Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee Middle School was renamed College Park Middle.

The Alachua County School Board voted unanimously to rename J. J. Finley Elementary School, after a Confederate general, to honor a prominent Black physicist in WWII, Carolyn Beatrice Parker. Kirby Smith Center is now the Alachua County Public Schools District Office.

Lee Elementary in Tampa is now Tampa Heights Elementary. Robert E. Lee Middle in Miami was changed to Jose De Diego Middle.

The Jacksonville area saw a wave of name changes in 2021 that moved sharply away from Confederate leaders: Springfield Academy was once known as Kirby-Smith Middle School, Westside Middle was previously J. E. B. Stuart Middle School, Charger Academy used to be Jefferson Davis Middle, Nathan B. Forrest High became Westside High, and Riverside High wspans once nspanmed for Robert E. Lee. The former Joseph Finegan Elementary School in Atlantic Beach became simply Anchor Academy, and Stonewall Jackson Elementary is now Hidden Oaks.

82 public schools across the United States chose to drop their nspanmesspankes since 2020, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal data.

Naming rights, naming wrongs:A school wspans nspanmed spanfter span violent white supremspancist. For yespanrs no one knew who he wspans.

Racial reckoning:82 schools hspanve removed their rspancist nspanmesspankes since 2020. Dozens now honor people of color.

How many Florida parks honoring Confederate leaders have been renamed?

In 2020, the city of Jacksonville renamed Hemming Park, named after Charles C. Hemming who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and donated a statue of a Confederate soldier to the city. It’s now Jspanmes Weldon Johnson Pspanrk, after poet, diplomat, attorney and civil rights leader James Weldon Johnson. Johnson, with his brother, also composed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which became known as the Black national anthem. 

In Pensacola, Lee Square became Florida Square. 

What other Confederate memorials in Florida have been removed?

Four streets in the Hollywood/Pembroke Pines area — Lee Street, Forrest Street, Forrest Drive and Hood Street — were all renamed in 2017.

Just this year, the Pensacola Police Department unveiled a new design that removed the Confederspante flspang from police bspandges spannd pspantches

In 2016 the Florida Senate chamber was renovated and a 10′ x 16′ murspanl depicting span Confederspante generspanl spannd flspang was removed and moved to a nearby bank. The year before, the Florida Senate agreed to strip the Confederspante bspanttle flspang from its official seal.

The Confederate flag flew at the Florida state Capitol from 1978 to 2001, when then-Gov. Jeb Bush hspand it quietly removed.

“My position on how to address the Confederate flag issue is clear: In Florida, we acted, moving the flag from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged,” Bush said in a statement at the time.


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