Frankfort, Ky. – Lawmakers and businesses across the nation are reconsidering their approach to symbols of Confederate States of America in the aftermath of a shooting which left nine people dead at an African American church in Charleston, S.C., last week.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has called for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the state’s capitol, and many large retailers, such as CafePress and Walmart, have announced they would no longer be carrying merchandise with Confederate flag-related material.
In Kentucky, attention has turned to Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy, particularly on Davis’ statue alongside other venerable Kentuckians, such as Abraham Lincoln.
More and more Kentucky lawmakers and officials think the decision to have Davis displayed in the capitol needs to be revisited, including:
Senator Mitch McConnell:
“Davis’ sole connection to Kentucky was that he was born there, he subsequently moved to Mississippi, and Kentucky of course did not secede from the Union. So I think it’s appropriate, certainly in Kentucky, to be talking about the appropriateness of continuing to have Jefferson Davis’ statue in a very prominent place in our State Capitol. Maybe a better place for that would be the Kentucky History Museum, which is also in the state capital.”
Congressman Andy Barr:
“I join my fellow Americans in mourning the tragic events last week in Charleston and the unspeakable massacre of nine innocent children of God. I continue to be inspired by the remarkable grace and Christian love and forgiveness shown by the family members of the victims, which is, ultimately, what is required of all of us to achieve the genuine reconciliation our nation clearly needs. Because I support any and all additional steps that might facilitate healing in our country, I concur in the judgment of state leaders who have called for the statue of Jefferson Davis to be relocated out of the state Capitol building to another location.”
House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover:
“While we acknowledge the historical perspective of the Civil War in Kentucky, there is a time that we move on from that history and set our Commonwealth on a different path. Therefore I am calling on Governor Steve Beshear to issue an executive order to relocate the Jefferson Davis statue from the Capitol Rotunda to the Kentucky History Center.
“If the Governor issues an executive order for the removal of the statue, I will pre-file a bill that will create a commission to suggest to the state curator another Kentuckian to be placed in the Capitol Rotunda.”
Governor Steve Beshear:
“It’s time to reconsider the statues which represent Kentucky in our state capitol, as each statue has been in place for more than a half century. Per state law (KRS 11.026), the Historic Properties Advisory Commission determines what is displayed in the Rotunda, and I am requesting that they review these monuments in context of Kentucky’s history.
“Kentucky holds a unique place in Civil War history, as our state was the birthplace of both presidents during that war. Jefferson Davis’ statue is just a few steps away from the central Abraham Lincoln statue. While Davis’ likeness hasn’t been used in the same way as the Confederate flag, a broader discussion of the statue’s position in the Capitol is due.
“I urge the Historic Properties Advisory Commission to seek public input as well as the advice of the state’s historians on all the art in the Capitol Rotunda in order to consider the necessary historic, social and educational context of these monuments.”
Gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin:
“I applaud Governor Haley’s decision to call for the removal of the Confederate Flag from capitol grounds in South Carolina, and I think it would be equally appropriate for Kentucky to remove the Jefferson Davis statue from our capitol. It is important never to forget our history, but parts of our history are more appropriately displayed in museums, not on government property.”