Mayor defends Confederate monument out of respect for women

In a text to a citizen asking to rename Lee Square to its original name, Florida Square, and remove the Confederate monument, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said we should remember the monument was from  widows and women to remember those who died in a conflict.

“If our efforts are truly about equity and justice and not simply self interest for personal desire, then we need to be thoughtful, deliberate and respectful,” wrote the mayor. “We are talking about widows and women, people who certainly understand challenges of equality.”

He added, “Respect is the only way to truly heal.”

The mayor’s memory is selective.

The widows of Governor Edward Perry and Confederate Navy Secretary Stephen Mallory and the Ladies Confederate Monument Association of Pensacola did help raise the funds for the monument, but others played a big hand bringing it about.

The idea originated with Governor Perry. In 1881, three years before he was elected, he wrote a letter that was published in Pensacola’s Semi-Weekly Gazette that appealed for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties to be “foremost in contributions for a monument which shall be some small token of our appreciation of what is due to an honest soldier’s dust.”

Perry, Pensacola resident and brigadier general in the Confederate army, was elected governor without carrying Escambia County. During his one term, he abolished Pensacola’s city government  and replaced all the black officials (Escambia County was 45% black). He oversaw the 1885 state constitution convention that gutted all the rights black citizens gained after the Civil War.

Perry failed to win re-election and died before he could accomplish having a state monument built in Tallahassee. After his death in 1889, only $3,005 had been raised, all but $87 of which from the Pensacola area, according to Pensapedia. In April 1890, the project was revived by William Dudley Chipley, and its location moved to Pensacola.

Chipley had been appointed to city office by Perry when he abolished the city charter. He served as mayor for 1887-88.

Before moving to Pensacola, Chipley, along with other Ku Klux Klan members in Columbus, Ga., had been charged for the the murder of George W. Ashburn. The state legislature ratified the 14th Amendment, which ultimately dissolved the military court before it could render a verdict.

At the monument’s dedication, the daily newspaper declared June 17, 1891 would go into history as “the most glorious day that the old city has ever known.”

The monument honors Jefferson Davis – “The only man in our nation without at country”- on its east face; Perry – “… faithful in every position to which his merit advanced him”- on its west face; Mallory – “Tis not in mortals to command success…- on its north face; and “The Uncrowned Heroes of the Southern Confederacy” on its south face.

Chipley, vice president of the Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad, would be later elected to the Florida Senate and lose his bid for U.S Senator in 1896 by one vote. He has been honored with an obelisk in Plaza Ferdinand on Palafox.

Councilwoman Sherri Myers doesn’t believe the monument is about women’s rights.

“This is not a women’s rights issue, and the issue of discrimination against women should not be exploited to justify keeping a symbol that represents 300 years of the enslavement of African American women and men because of the color of their skin,” Myers told Inweekly.

She pointed out that many white women were involved in the abolitionist movement to free slaves.

“In no way does the Confederate monument present women, just because white women in Pensacola who were well-off and well-connected wanted to memorialize confederate soldiers who died,” she said. “I reject outright this justification for allowing the Confederate monument to continue to occupy the most prominent space in our city.





7 thoughts on “Mayor defends Confederate monument out of respect for women

  1. It’s all about slave owners Grover. Well I guess someone has to stand up for the slavers.

  2. What a ridiculous argument. Take the monument down and respectfully put it in a museum. Similar things are happening all over the South – it is time. There are so many better historic figures we could memorialize in a park from our city’s past:
    – Honor our African American community and notable figures
    – Interesting women from the city’s past
    – Celebrate the city’s diverse heritage as a port city and melting pot of trade and commerce
    – Celebrate people who spoke out against discrimination and supported civil rights
    – Remember victims of lynchings

  3. How Orwellian. Why not demolish all buildings older than 100 years too? And dig up all graves older than 100 years? May as well burn the old books too. Just erase history and make it what you want.

  4. County and City got rid of Confederate Battle Flags, same folks argued that their history and culture was being removed. However, they could care less how decedents of black slaves and residents of this city, felt ,ever time they had to walk by flags that represented SLAVERY , LYNCHING AND DISCRIMIATION. Mayor at the time of removal did vote yes to remove, while serving as County Commissioner, but later on brought this subject back up and base his new opinion if the City agreed to remove, then the County would agree to remove, which the DID.. Us newly arrivals from the north, truly do know about Lynching’s , Slavery and Racism & Discrimination Our ancestors fought and died to free the slaves, and save the Union from being destroyed by southern ancestors who believed that ownership of African individuals was acceptable, because they were ONE CHATEL, NOT HUME BEINGS….

  5. It is unfortunate that the Mayor has taken such an outdated position. The Confederate founding principals and principles were based in the oppression, enslavement and subjugation of Black people. These statues, flags and other confederate symbols remain an obstacle to resolving racial conflict in America. He doesn’t understand silence is condoning and non-action is complicity to the principles and principals of the racism of the CSA.

  6. This monument needs to stay and people respect the Mayor’s decision to not immediately react. He will be damed if he does and damn it he doesn’t. He will not and can not make a unilateral decision.

    Many of the youth don’t understand nor do people moving here from the north or other areas apparently.
    If we are going to look at all this going on we need to remember and not relegate the monuments to a closet just like we shouldn’t forget the anthem Dixie.

  7. It is looking past time for this sad monument, which was initially and remains a painful blemish on Pensacola, to be removed.

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