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State Board To Seek Public Comment In Review of Jefferson Davis Statue

Jefferson Davis

The Historic Properties Advisory Commission will take public comment on whether to remove the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from Kentucky's state Capitol rotunda.

Commission chairman Steve Collins said that the commission needs to look into the statue's historic value and the logistics of moving it.

“We need to embrace our history, but we need to be very sensitive to the concerns that everyone has with respect to how we do that,” Collins said.

“I think that when you forget your history you’re sometimes doomed to repeat it. It doesn’t change your history if you blot it out so I think it is important.”

State leaders including Gov. Steve Beshear, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Greg Stumbo have all called for the removal of the statue. The two major party candidates for governor, Matt Bevin and Jack Conway, have also called for the statue's removal.

Like Kentucky, Southern states are reexamining their Confederate icons in the wake of a mass shooting in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. South Carolina and Alabama have removed Confederate flags from their capitols and efforts are underway to remove the flag in Mississippi,Tennessee and Virginia as well.

Louisville NAACP president Raoul Cunningham said he’s encouraged by the growing disdain for Confederate symbols, especially Davis’ statue, which he lobbied to have removed in 2003.

“I think some of us in the African American community have always realized that the flag and the Confederacy was offensive,” Cunningham said.

The statue was commissioned in 1932 using funds raised by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and a $5,000 appropriation from the Kentucky legislature.

“Kentucky was segregated. Times have changed. And Kentucky has changed quite a bit,” Cunningham said.

The comment period will last until July 29.

People who wish to voice their opinion will soon be able to do so in a form on the commission’s website. Until the form goes live, comments can be emailed to State Curator David Buchta.

Members of the commission will discuss findings at a special meeting will be held on Aug. 5.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.