House Speaker Greg Stumbo will file resolution to remove Jefferson Davis statue from Capitol

08/12/2015 06:16 PM

FRANKFORT – A week after the state’s Historic Properties Advisory Commission overwhelmingly voted to retain the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the Capitol Rotunda, House Speaker Greg Stumbo announced he will sponsor a resolution to place the 15-foot marble rendering in a Frankfort museum.

Stumbo told reporters after Wednesday’s Legislative Research Commission meeting of his plans to file the resolution for consideration in the upcoming legislative session, saying that although the statue has a place in history, it has no place in the “house of the people.”

The Davis statue and other remnants of the Confederacy across the country came under scrutiny after a gunman killed nine churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., in June. South Carolina’s legislature, for instance, voted to remove the Confederate battle flag from Capitol grounds after the mass shooting.

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has already worked to build support for his resolution, saying he met with lawmakers from the House and Senate during the Southern Legislative Conference in Savannah, Ga., last month.

“I expect that there will be some co-sponsors,” he said.

Regardless of the 7-2 vote by the historic properties panel last week and polling numbers that show 73 percent of respondents favored keeping Davis’s statue in the Rotunda, Stumbo expects his resolution to fare well in next year’s session.

The Historic Properties Advisory Commission elected to include more educational materials on all statues in the Rotunda to put them in historical context. While supporters of the statue argue that Davis’s role in American history merits his place in the Capitol, opponents say his likeness is a reminder of slavery and racism.

When asked about the results of the Bluegrass Poll, which was conducted by SurveyUSA for WKYT-TV, WHAS-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal, Stumbo said the numbers would likely be different with an explanation of opposition to the statue.

“I think if you just ask a raw poll, you get a lot of reaction that probably isn’t as thought out as it should be, but if you think about the symbol in the house of government that stands for all people that offends some people, then I think it’s improper to have it there, period,” Stumbo said.

When asked about possible legislation to remove the Davis statue, Senate President Robert Stivers said he had not heard or thought of such a bill, so he was unsure of its prospects.


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