Erasing Florida’s past as pro-confederate state

Confederate flag

Louren Mcintosh

Managing Editor

The Senate recently proposed a bill (SB 224) that would end the legal holidays in Florida that celebrate the confederate general, Robert E. Lee; the confederate president, Jefferson Davis, and the celebration of Confederate Memorial Day.

The proposal of this bill came to light when the debate arose regarding three streets in the city of Hollywood that were named after Robert E. Lee, Nathan Bedford Forest and John Bell Hood, all of which were confederate generals.

The removal of these street names sparked much protest. Opponents and supporters of the decision gathered in the commission chamber to speak about the decision.

Opponents believe this was an attempt to rid them of their southern history while supporters believe erasing these names will be taking a step in the right direction, as there were many people offended by the street names.

The Hollywood Chamber eventually passed the decision in a 5-1 vote.

The decision to change the street names in Hollywood was just the start in erasing Florida’s pro-confederate past.

The legal holidays of Lee, Davis and Confederate Memorial Day aren’t paid-work days off, but they are the only pro-confederate legal holidays out of the 21 holidays celebrated in Florida.

The bill to eliminate these holidays passed its first committee in the Senate, with a 4-2 vote. 

Though it has passed the first committee, it must still go through two more committees before entering the Senate Floor.

 When the bill regains movement, it’s next stop is in the “Government Oversight and Accountability” committee. A committee headed by the conservative Florida senate member, Dennis Baxley.

Many argue against this proposal, believing it is erasing their culture.

“People swarmed the meeting when this bill was being proposed, referring to this bill as ‘cultural genocide’ and called the civil war, ‘The War of Southern Independence,’” according to the Sun-Sentinel. 

Florida was one of the first states to form the “Confederate States of America” in 1861 and played a major part in the civil war. Over half of the state consisted of slaves working on cotton farms and plantations. 

Although Florida’s pro-slavery past cannot be erased, the removal of these confederate symbols is just the beginning of redemption.

General Robert E. Lee of the confederate army believed that “negro is not equal to the white man” and led thousands of people to their death when choosing to fight a war in honor of keeping slavery alive.

The only confederate president ever, Jefferson Davis, believed that slaves were “comfortable and happy.”

The Confederate Army worked to oppress and fought to continue the horrendous enslavement of an entire group of people.

 If we continue to celebrate these figures of the confederacy, whether it be by street names or legal holidays, we are contributing to a past of discrimination. To grow as a society, we must be willing to improve and grow. Many believe that this is erasing their southern heritage, but that is not the case. 

The removal of these streets, monuments and holidays is a step that is necessary to move on from times of slavery and segregation. The confederacy and its flag stood for white-only movements and is the symbol of many white nationalists and supremacists groups, as we saw in Charlottesville, when thousands of neo-Nazis carried the confederate flag while yelling slogans like “Blood and soil.”

Many of our state congressional members, and even President Donald Trump have made comments, referring to the celebration of the confederacy as part of southern history.

“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments” Trump tweeted after the Charlottesville riots.

The confederacy is a symbol of slavery, which honors Americas racist past and if you agree with the idea of celebrating it, you are part of the problem.