As expected, Davis statue will be removed after emotional debate
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – As expected, a state board voted overwhelming Friday to remove the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the state Capitol Rotundsa and place it in the Jefferson Davis Park in Fairview, Ky., in Todd County where Davis was born.
But while the vote was 11-1, it did not come without some passionate debate about the emotional decision, including some from who ultimately voted for the move.
The state Historic Properties Advisory Commission made the decision during a 30-minute special meeting that was called at the request of Gov. Andy Beshear, who said last week the statue should go after it became an issue among protesters seeking racial equality in the wake of high-profile deaths of blacks at the hands of police in the country, including Breonna Taylor in Louisville.
“It was past time for this vote and for this action. But what it will mean is that we get a little closer to truly being Team Kentucky that every child who walks into this Capitol feels welcome, and none of them have to look at a symbol and a statue that stands for the enslavement of their ancestors,” Beshear said after the vote. “Today is a move toward showing that everybody is welcome in this building and that our government should work for the betterment of every single Kentuckian that we have systematic issues that we must address, but that now is the time to truly move forward, to truly make progress and to show that Team Kentucky includes every single Kentuckian.”
But Beshear’s involvement drew some fire from board member Brandon Wilson, who was appointed by former Gov. Matt Bevin and was the lone vote against removal.
“Gov. Beshear is politicizing this board,” Wilson said at one point during the discussion.
Within minutes after the vote, crews began removing the five-ton, 12-foot marble statue from the place where it has stood since 1936. It was put there at the urging of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
In a passionate statement, board member Cathy Thomas pointed out that date was at the height of the Jim Crow era and the statue was meant to be a symbol of “white supremacy,” not of historical significance.
The same commission rejected an effort to remove the statue in 2017 in the wake of race-related violence in Charlottesville, Va. In response to those efforts, the Commission voted to leave it in place but did remove a plaque that called Davis a “war hero.”