September 30, 2020
In The Public Interest
Hemming Park Confederate Statue

Confederate Monuments

Here’s What . . .

we’re hearing

On today’s First Coast Connect 89.9, Melissa Ross and the Media Roundtable reviewed the current status of Confederate monuments in Duval County,  You will remember that Mayor Lenny Curry removed the Confederate statue in Hemming Park in July.  JaxLookout blogged about this on July 11 (https://jaxlookout.com/4782-2/)

Earlier this week, Ross interviewed Earl Johnson, Jr., founder of Take It Down.  Take It Down is a national organization dedicated to removing Confederate monuments from public land. In the Ross interview, Johnson stated, “Now that Richmond has taken down its Confederate Avenue, Jacksonville continues to hold the world’s foremost collection of monuments, honorariums and namings of schools after the Confederacy.”

You can hear First Coast Connect’s entire interview with Earl Johnson, Jr., which comprises the first segment of the show, by clicking here: https://news.wjct.org/post/renaming-hemming-park-amazon-crime-justice-during-pandemic-free-tacos

Written by
Robert Arleigh White

Robert Arleigh White has many years of experience managing nonprofit arts organizations in North Florida where he has also been active in promoting a host of arts related initiatives. In recognition of over 20 years of successful legislative and community advocacy, the City of Jacksonville proclaimed August 12 as “Robert Arleigh White Day,” and Jacksonville’s City Council similarly authorized a resolution in his honor. Previously, Mr. White served as the executive and artistic director for Theatre Jacksonville where he led the organization from near fiscal insolvency to become one of the State of Florida’s most successful artistic venues. While there, he also was directly responsible for the artistic direction of fifty plays and worked to produce dozens more. Currently, Bob is the principal for Robert Arleigh White + Associates where he consults with nonprofits on development, infrastructure and organizational storytelling.

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1 comment
  • I have something to say and it’s long. Remember when you get to the end, and read the article, there is time to voice your thoughts to the City Council, which will vote on Tuesday, August 11 for the original proposal or an inconvenient compromise.

    Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Jacksonville. sigh.
    Let me preface this post with the fact that my late father, uncles, cousins (male and female, some a generation or two younger than me), and close friends are veterans of every branch of this nation’s armed services. I am grateful for their service to America. The entire country honors our veterans every Veterans Day in November. Most cities, including Jacksonville, present a VETERANS DAY PARADE to further emphasize our gratitude. When the city rebuilt its large events and entertainment venue, they renamed it VYSTAR VETERANS MEMORIAL ARENA. Also located downtown is the VETERANS MEMORIAL WALL, which carries over 1,700 names of Jacksonville area fallen heroes from all six branches of the armed forces. An uncle who transitioned earlier this year is buried in Jacksonville‘s NATIONAL CEMETERY for veterans and spouses. Veterans in the Jacksonville area receive stellar health care at the newly rebuilt Veterans’ Administration Clinic in the Springfield neighborhood. I think this demonstrates a wealth of acknowledgement of the women and men who have served this country well.
    For these reasons I am dismayed that a few Veterans groups would interfere with the proposal to rename the 1.54-acre Hemming Plaza after James Weldon Johnson, an internationally celebrated native son, who, by the way, was born just a few blocks away in the LaVilla neighborhood. (As a child, I did not like walking through Hemming Park, because once when I wanted a drink of water, Mama made a big deal as I headed toward one of the clean water fountains. As she ushered me toward the “colored only” fountain, I pushed back because it was dirty; the City did not take care of them.) The proposal for this commemoration was made by Councilman Garrett Dennis in June. I find it intriguing that just when the city council was set to vote on the measure, veteran groups voiced their desire to have the park named Veterans Memorial Park. I applaud the Council president Rory Daniels’ attempt at a compromise on which the Veterans groups could agree – having a portion of the park designated as Veterans Memorial Plaza. After all, what politician wants to be in the awkward position of denying veterans the privilege of another honorarium?

    But, isn’t that what these groups are doing – rejecting an opportunity to show diversity in action, to demonstrate at this extraordinary moment in our history just how uniquely extraordinary we are as a citizenry, and making room for the world to see Jacksonville in a positive light? We will always remember the men and women who fight for this country.

    Surely these same men and women don’t begrudge celebrating the accomplishments of a Jacksonvillian whose legacy and contributions to this city makes us all proud.

    I am in favor of one park, one name – James Weldon Johnson Plaza or James Weldon Johnson Park.

Written by Robert Arleigh White

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