State House members wasted no time this week in reviving a proposal for a Florida Slavery Memorial near the Capitol, an idea that stalled amid some controversy at the end of the 2017 session last spring.
Now several months later, the proposal — sponsored by Miami Democratic Rep. Kionne McGhee — takes on new meaning against a backdrop of the growing racial divide across America and of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., during the summer over the removal of a Confederate statue there.
“It sends a signal to the entire country that Florida is willing to take a step — like it has always done in certain circumstances — in the right direction. We lead by example. We are Florida,” McGhee said after his bill (HB 67) swiftly passed its first of three House committees by a unanimous vote Wednesday morning. (The bill was the first piece of legislation considered by the House government oversight committee ahead of the 2018 session.)
McGhee said the debate over whether symbols of the Confederacy — including one on the Florida Capitol grounds — ought to be removed is a separate issue from the Florida Slavery Memorial he wants built. But the two matters are nonetheless intertwined in the broader national discussion on race.