United? or Untied?

November 12, 2017

The last entry on this blog was also posted on Facebook and "boosted" in order to reach a wide audience. It did.

 

I have pinned it to the top of the page in case you want to read for yourself.

 

The overwhelming response was "leave it alone", followed closely by “maybe you should leave", and of course, “it's our history (which can't be changed)”. The most common defense was that the statue hasn’t “hurt anybody until now”, as if “now” was too late, and that “anybody” was “somebody I know”. City commissioners have implied that their feedback on this issue is similar.

 

And so it seems likely that when they take official action it will leave the monument in place. There is a smaller likelihood that an effort will be undertaken to add other monuments or remembrances of Lakeland’s role in the Civil War and other historic eras in order to create a more balanced environment in the park.

 

This impact of this effort will not be realized for a very long time, if at all, and so it will stand as the “thought that counts”. 

 

Imagine the debate over what history to portray and remember and honor. Whose history exactly? Which moments? Who decides? Who pays? Who - inasmuch as the stature will not - will be moved?

 

The commentary on the Facebook post is pretty much what we can expect from Facebook commentators and consequently exhibits little empathy or understanding, and so it may be somewhat discounted. The emails, phone calls, and letters to the commissioners may reflect more serious and thoughtful views, and it would serve us all well to know that.

 

The commissioners themselves are serious and thoughtful as well. You can feel their angst by watching the 30-minute discussion at the November 3rd agenda study.

 

It can be extremely complicated to "seize the day” and it cannot be done half-heartedly, but when the day arrives with such momentum, it deserves to be considered. 

 

We have been offered an opportunity to create a more inclusive community and we will apparently pass on it. Fear, generated by the noise of agitators who have stormed this issue all across the country, has reached into our home and frozen us in time. Lakeland will just be another place that can’t face it or escape it. Someplace will. Just not Lakeland. Which will become another chapter of our precious “history”.

 

I repeat my suggestion that the statue be offered to someone who wants it and who will place and preserve it - and its history - in a suitable location accessible to all who wish to honor it. This is not about bringing the community together, which most say will not happen by moving the statue. It is about including those who are willing to say, now, that they have felt - and have actually been - excluded from a place so many of the rest of consider to be a great little city and a strong and safe community.

 

It is time to make history.

 

See also Whose monument is it? and Race, racism, monuments, and obstacles

 

 

 

And ... Election Victim: The Movement to Relocate the Statue LkldNOW

 

The Ledger's Bill Thompson weighs in. Read his editorial here

 

Register your own view with both the current commission and the new one:

 

Jim Malless

Don Selvage

Justin Troller

Phillip Walker

Howard Wiggs

Edie Yates

Bill Read

Scott Franklin

Larry Durrence

Michael Dunn

Stephanie Madden

Bill Mutz

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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 - Bill Mutz

Bill Read - Justin Troller - 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 Tony Delgado  because it's his job to implement whatever projects, resolutions, and ordinances the Commission proposes in response to our communication.

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