Religious leaders call for removal of Confederate monument

- In a second bid to convince Hillsborough County commissioners to remove a monument to Confederate soldiers that stands outside the county courthouse, religious leaders and activists gathered and sang the anthem of the Civil Rights movement: "We shall overcome."

"The moral arc of the universe is extremely long, but it bends towards justice," said Rev. James T. Golden of the AME Church.

RELATED: Florida Daughters of the Confederacy president supports statue move

The monument is called "Memoria in Aeterna," or "In everlasting remembrance."

Activists are demanding commissioners reverse last month's 4-3 decision to let it stand at the county courthouse.

"This is not about the Confederate monument that stands here in Hillsborough County," said Golden. "This is about all of those monuments that stand anywhere and everywhere as a testament to a time gone by that nobody ever wants to see come again."

They will need one of three commissioners to change their mind: Sandy Murman, Ken Hagan or Stacy White.

Victor Crist, already did change his mind, but will out of town if the vote is taken Wednesday.

Last month, supporters of the statue spoke out.

"Those people don't understand history. by removing it where it stands they are removing it from the public marketplace," said David McCalister.

Assuming he can get the votes, Commissioner Les Miller is trying to negotiate with a private cemetery to take it

"It would be great if they all changed their vote," said one rallier.

The statue was first dedicated in 1911 and moved to the courthouse in the 1950s.

"This represents the mindset that existed at that time," said Jay Hall, a Tampa resident who remembers what segregation was like in Florida in the 1940s.

"It represents that they want to be on top of us and we are on the bottom," said Roy Benson, a Tampa resident.

Is the civil rights anthem enough, this time?

"This monument represents the darkness that drives bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne," said Charles McKenzie of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Those at the rally pledged to have a sizable showing at the chambers on Wednesday to make their voices heard then as well.

 

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