LAKE COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS ANTICIPATED TO PROHIBIT KIRBY-SMITH STATUE IN LAKE COUNTY MUSEUM
(Click for draft resolution and letter)
“In my viewpoint the confederate statue has no historical reference to Lake County. He doesn’t belong here.”
(Umatilla Museum and Historical Society Curator Elizabeth Betsy Reed email to County Commissioner Leslie Campione)
Lake County Voices of Reason’s current focus relates to The Lake Historical Society and The Lake County Board of County Commissioners.
Lake County Voices of Reason is committed to stopping The Lake County Commission’s proposed importation and installation of a statue of Confederate General Kirby-Smith in the Old Sheriff’s Office in Lake County Florida – an action based on erroneous statements made by the President of the Lake County Historical Society to both State and Local Officials.
We are not alone in believing the statue is wrong for Lake County. Nine municipal governments representing 85% of the Lake County municipal population passed resolutions opposing carting the statue to Lake County. Governor DeSantis received this letter from mayors in Lake County.
Confederate Statue Background:
The statue of Confederate Gen. Edmond Kirby-Smith was cast in 1922 at the direction of the Florida Legislature. For almost a century it has represented the State of Florida in the US Capitol’s Statuary Hall in Washington, DC.
In 2018, Florida’s Legislature and Governor Scott decided to remove and replace the statue, feeling that it is an inaccurate and hurtful representation of The Sunshine State. The Legislature further required that the statue be offered for free to any Florida community and museum. The replacement statue will be one of black Florida educator Mary McLeod Bethune
Every county, community and museum throughout Florida declined the offer including the Florida State Museum. Every single one said “no thanks, not here” — that is, except for one solitary “yes” — Lake County. This statue is now scheduled to arrive for installation at our taxpayer-supported Historic Courthouse and Museum in Tavares sometime during 2020 making Lake County Florida the ONLY county in the country erecting a statue to a Civil War General.
Click here to jump to the Bob Grenier presentation to the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs Ad Hoc Statue Location Selection Committee. Apparently this was after private conversations with elected officials.
In a meeting on July 19, 2018 with the Lake County Historical Society Board of Directors when asked why he hadn’t advised the African American community of his intentions of securing the statue, Curator Grenier stated “it was all back channels” – “to go after the statue”. Thus confirming a callous disregard for those in the community who would be most effected by the pain this clandestine action would create.
Click here to jump to Mae Hazelton’s request at the July 24, 2018 Lake County Commissioners Meeting seeking verification of Mr. Grenier’s statement to the Ad Hoc Committee that all five County Commissioners supported the movement of the Statue to Lake County.
- The statue is irrelevant to Lake’s history. Lake County was created in 1887 — 22 years after the Civil War.
- The subject of the statue — Confederate Gen. Kirby-Smith — was born in St. Augustine and left Florida when he was 12. He is buried in Tennessee along with his family, and he never visited this area. There is no relevance at all to Lake County.
- Nine of Lake’s fourteen cities have passed resolutions urging the County Commission to turn down the statue. These cities represent 85% of Lake’s municipal population. No Lake County city has spoken in support of the statue.
- On August 10, in the blazing summer heat, nearly 500 Lake County citizens marched to protest importing the statue. No one has marched in favor of the statue.
- On October 24, scores of Lake citizens gathered on the steps of the county’s Historic Courthouse in a prayer vigil to pray and voice opposition to the Lake County Commission’s divided 3-2 vote to import the 9’ tall confederate memorial to Tavares. No one prayed for the statue to come here.
- All other Florida communities and museums — including St. Augustine (Smith’s birthplace) —were offered the statue and all have refused — every single one said “no thanks.”
- After erroneously saying they had no control over what was placed in the ccmuseum. The Lake County’s Commission voted to allow it to be placed in the Nationally Registered Historic Building. Proposing to house the Smith statue, memorialized in his confederate regalia, in the same building that served as headquarters for the infamous racist Sheriff Willis McCall, and in which members of the Groveland Four were tortured, transcends insensitivity.
- We do not say Florida should not have the statue, don’t destroy this monument, place it in a more appropriate location such as Olustee Battlefield or in the Florida State Museum.
- Finally, if Lake accepts this Jim-Crow-era artifact, it will make national news. Lake County will look foolish and backward — and that is never good for business, for community cohesion and for Lake County’s civic reputation. One must ask: “What’s the point?” What is the real reason that a few powerful local folks are feverishly angling for this Jim-Crow-era relic that no other Florida community wants?”
- As a speaker at the Lake County Commission meeting said, “It hurts people to bring this statue to Lake County but it hurts nobody to not bring it here.”