TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Get it out of there. That’s what some Florida lawmakers are saying, again calling for the removal of a Confederate war memorial, which sits on the lawn of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee.
It was dedicated in 1882 to the Confederate soldiers of Leon County and has been a point of contention for years.
Now, the great-grandson of a Confederate soldier, Russell Pfost, is adding his voice to those pushing to remove the structure.
Pfost’s great-granddad, Noah Channell, doesn’t have any direct connection to Florida. Channell enlisted with the 31st Virginia Infantry, Company F. Pfost described him as a farmer who didn’t make a lot but fought with a conviction for his southern state.
“Very proud of him,” Pfost said. “For a farmer, with very little education, he did quite a bit with his life.”
Pfost said he recognizes preserving history is important to honor people like his great grandfather, but felt the Capitol lawn should be a place free from icons some find oppressive.
“When you come to the state capitol — even the Old Capitol Museum — everybody needs to feel welcome,” Pfost said. “If this memorial is a hindrance to that, I think it might need to be relocated, at least considered.”
The renewed push to remove has reignited with Rep. Geraldine Thompson, a central Florida Democrat. She recently called for a relocation of the monument. Her staff said it might be done through a bill next session if change doesn’t come soon.
Slowing the effort— a debate of who’s in charge of making the final decision. The monument has become a hot potato with the legislature and Department of Management Services both thinking the other is responsible.
Plus, plenty of others want the memorial to stay where it is.
“I don’t think it’s offensive,” Frances Dennard said, a Tallahassee resident. “It’s part of our history and we need to keep that part.”
“It’ll let the young ones know what happened,” said Amber Williams, another Tally resident. “Keep them up on history.”
For Pfost, that history is important. Although, healing from the Civil War comes first.
“If this is a problem with that,” he said, “a respectful place to relocate might be the answer.”
Previous attempts at removing the structure haven’t gotten enough traction. One of the latest was a bill in 2018 that would have removed all confederate memorials from state-owned or leased land. It died in committee.