Groups call for removal of Jefferson Davis statue in the Capitol rotunda

08/30/2017 02:41 PM

FRANKFORT — Members of the Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus, the African American Heritage Commission, State Conference of the NAACP, Kentucky Human Rights Commission and the Kentucky Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials held at rally on Wednesday calling for Gov. Matt Bevin to authorize removing the Jefferson Davis statue from the Capitol rotunda.

In August 2015, the state Historic Properties Advisory Commission, which has the sole legal authority in overseeing statues in the Capitol, voted 7-2-1 to keep the Davis statue in the building.

Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, chair of the Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus, called on Bevin to remove the statue which represents a time in history when African Americans were oppressed.

“You have the responsibility of a man of God and a parent to raise above the politics of the past and to lift our commonwealth to a higher moral state, or you can play to a base that remains as stuck as Jeff Davis is over there in the corner, left in the confines of being on the wrong side of history,” Meeks said.

Kentucky NAACP President Raoul Cunningham said that the statue needs to be removed because it represents a time of separation and slavery, which should not be honored.

“Today we come asking, requesting and advocating the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue because it is divisive,” Cunningham said. “There’s no question and no doubt about it.”

Stan Holmes of the Kentucky Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials acknowledged that some critics are asking why the sudden outcry concerning Confederate monuments, but he says there is no wrong time to do what is right.

“Now is not the time to break from fighting racism,” Holmes said. “Now is not the time to break from fighting poverty, injustice, brutality, better education, homelessness, physical abuse in crimes. So governor, tear down those old walls.”

If the statue is still standing at the Capitol in January, Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, says that he would consider filing legislation to have it removed.

Kentucky Democratic Party Communications Director Brad Bowman said removing the Jefferson Davis statue from the Capitol rotunda is not about “sanitizing history” but rather “standing up for social justice because of the very history of slavery in this state.”

“The very reason this statue stands in our Capitol is that we have forgotten our history. And its relocation will be the first step in remembering it,” Bowman said in a statement.

“We can’t stand for revisionist history, but what is socially and morally right. Davis was the president of an insurrection that supported enslaving other human beings and justified killed other Americans. There should be no room in the Capitol for such a statue.”


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