Story at a glance
- St. Augustine, Fla., voted to remove a statue honoring fallen Confederate soldiers.
- City commissioners previously voted to leave it intact in 2017.
Joining the list of cities removing Confederate monuments from public spaces is St. Augustine, Fla.
Following a 10-hour debate among St. Augustine commissioners, the board ultimately voted 3-2 to remove a Confederate memorial from the Plaza de la Constitucion.
“I think it’s an important step forward,” Mayor Tracy Upchurch told the St. Augustine Record. “It’s a resounding statement by our Commission about the seriousness in which we take words like being an inclusive, diverse, compassionate community. And it was very difficult. There were heartfelt comments on both sides. But I believe it is the right thing for our community going forward.”
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Upchurch was one of the three public officials who voted to remove the monument, an obelisk established in the late 1800s that records names of St. Augustine soldiers who died during the Civil War while fighting for the Confederacy. The latest decision comes more than two years after the commissioners voted to keep it in place while adding plaques to give it context.
The contextual plaques were designed with the help of an appointed committee, and members of that committee were among the loudest voices calling for the monument’s removal.
Gayle Phillips, director of the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center and one of the committee members, told commissioners, “I ask you, as a Black woman, to remove this monument to racism from its place of public prominence.”
Historian Tom Graham, a former Flagler College professor, also served on the committee, though he argued for keeping the monument in place.
“Personally, I would like to add to St. Augustine’s history, not detract from it,” he said.
St. Augustine, located on the East Coast of Florida south of Jacksonville, is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. It was the site of several peaceful protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement that occurred two weeks ago.
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