Race, racism, monuments, and obstacles

We are not statues.

We are not doomed to stand – staring frozen-faced into the past – with stone-cold eyes that cannot see the future, unmoved by the present.

We live and breathe and become. And now we have a great opportunity to become better.

To begin our conversation on race, racism, monuments, and obstacles, please consider starting with this:

All parties are speaking their truth, and bring authentic passion to the debate.

The past is unchanging.

All sins are better forgiven than punished.

This is not a contest to yield winners and losers.

Let us assume that everything everyone believes is true and that we will not argue otherwise.

So now let us meet in the moment and consider our dilemma together. A significant part of our community feels it is time to separate ourselves from our past lives and foster a more modern and welcoming place. How long these feelings have endured is not as important as the fact that they are real and true and present. That they may not be your feelings is less important than that they are your neighbors’.

We are not alone. We are neighborhoods, communities, a city.

If we let stones define us, we will never be more than stones. If history has a place and a purpose – ( a debate for another moment ) – perhaps it serves us best if it is collected and connected in a safe place designed to make it available and instructive. A place of context and completeness. If that place is the center of our city then, as a matter of context and completeness, we ought to add the missing pieces of the era in which it arose, and make it truly historic.

But now we must decide. Now we must become better than stones. Now we must consider our community and decide that humans are more important than ideals or ideas. Our neighbors have asked to have the city remove a symbol that they feel diminishes them and I believe we should honor those feelings without diminishing those who feel otherwise. This act of consideration, compassion, and understanding can give us all a renewed sense of community which will ultimately give us all more opportunity to become our better selves.

We are not statues.

E-mail the commissioners

But one at a time, please!


For the most part, when recipients open an email that includes others they are less inclined to take it personally. Make sure your message resonates by sending it to each commissioner separately.

Scott Franklin - Stephanie Madden -  Sara McCarley - Chad Mcleod

Bill Mutz - Bill Read - Phillip Walker

Each of these noble citizens represents all the rest of us. The four geographic designations - Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast, etc. - apply only to the residency requirements for commissioners, not to their constituents. Bill Read, for instance, lives in the city's northeast quadrant and is likely to be more in tune with the businesses and neighborhoods in that area, but serves us all as our representative to the city management and staff.

It will always help to send your message to City Manager Shawn Sherouse  because it's his job to implement whatever projects, resolutions, and ordinances the Commission proposes in response to our communication.


State legislators representing Lakeland

Representative Colleen Burton

Senator Kelli Stargell