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Slavery Memorial and Confederate Statue Replacement “Long Over due”

January 15th, 2018 by Jake Stofan
A memorial to enslaved Floridians and a plan to replace a confederate general with a statue of a civil rights activist are moving forward in this years legislative session.
Many believe the honors are long overdue.
As Floridians at the state Capitol celebrated Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday, they reflected  on how far the state has come since the 1960’s
“We’re all in. We’re committed to the dream,” said Leon County Sheriff, Walt McNeil.
Part of moving forward is acknowledging the mistakes of the past. It’s the idea behind a proposal in the state Legislature to construct a monument honoring the contributions of enslaved Floridians. Activists at the rally say it would be a powerful gesture.
“I feel like it would be a good way to show that, that was a part of our history and we need to remember that,” said Terence McCrey.
“I think that’s great in stepping forward and showing that we want to right the wrong,” said Fran Barber.
There’s also a proposal to replace the statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith representing Florida at the U.S. Capitol, The top choice is civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune.
“[It’s] something that would represent what Martin Luther King represented,” said Poll Spears.
While the statutes would be symbolic gestures honoring how far the state has come, people we spoke with say much more needs to be done.
The top issue, the state’s clemency backlog.
There are 1.5 million people in the state unable to vote due to felony convictions.
“Make things come to pass so these people can have the rights that everybody else has,” said Pastor Quincy Griffin.
There are at least 8 proposals in the Legislature to fix the clemency process.
There are at least 8 proposals up for consideration this year looking to reform the state’s clemency process.
U.S. Representative Al Lawson wants to see the state use its 87 billion dollar budget this year to help disenfranchised communities.
“Those issues are extremely important for us to make a difference in Florida,” said Lawson.
State lawmakers go home in early March. If the monuments win ultimate approval, it will be in time for the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther Kings April 4th assassination.

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