Orlando Sentinel by John Cutter and Stephen Hudak
June 16, 2020
Lake County officials said Tuesday they will ask the state to find a more appropriate place for the statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith than the historic courthouse in Tavares.
But it’s unclear if the board’s decision will persuade the independent Lake County Historical Society to give up on the idea of exhibiting the figure.
The decision, if approved at its next meeting, will reverse a controversial 2019 vote that approved installing the statue in the county’s old courthouse, which houses the museum. The vote outraged many people who said the building, also known as the place where four black men known as the Groveland Four were tortured in one of Florida’s most notorious cases of racial injustice, was the wrong place to display the Confederate relic.
“It needs to go into a museum,” Commission Chairman Leslie Campione, who earlier supported the move, said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Just not in our historic museum…it is not the right museum for this particular artifact.”
The commission instructed its staff to return with a letter and resolution asking the state to reopen the process to find a new home for the statue, which will be replaced at the U.S. Capitol with one of Mary McLeod Bethune, the famed African-American educator. The Florida Legislature voted to replace the Kirby Smith statute in 2018.