Monday, April 23, 2018
Politics

Three Floridians nominated to replace Confederate statue in U.S. Capitol

TALLAHASSEE — A famed Florida educator and civil rights pioneer, the state's best-known environmentalist and the founder of an iconic grocery chain were all nominated Wednesday to be enshrined in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

A four-member panel (three other members were absent) selected a trio of visionaries: Mary McLeod Bethune, one of the most prominent African-American women of the 20th century; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the leading champion of the Everglades; and George Jenkins, founder of the Publix supermarket empire.

Next year, the Legislature will choose one of them to be the subject of a statue to replace Edmund Kirby Smith, a Confederate general, in the ornate hall in Washington where a pair of outstanding citizens represents each of the 50 states.

State lawmakers who sponsored a bill in the 2016 session that led to Wednesday's action said they supported Smith's replacement because he's not well-known as a Floridian, not because he was a Confederate general.

Florida's second citizen in the hall is John Gorrie of Apalachicola, who is credited with inventing air conditioning.

Only Bethune, who arrived in Daytona Beach in 1904, won votes from all four members of the panel, after supporters quoted from her last will and testament before her death in 1955.

"Our aim must be to create a world of fellowship and justice where no man's skin color or religion is held against him," she wrote.

Dr. Ashley Robertson, curator of the Bethune Foundation at Bethune-Cookman University, said Bethune would be the first African-American and the ninth woman honored with a state-commissioned statue at the hall, which is visited by millions of tourists each year.

"In looking at the demographics of the statues that are already in place, many of them do not reflect the diversity of our nation," Robertson said. "This is an opportunity for Florida to make history."

Gov. Rick Scott's appointee to the panel, Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun, the state adjutant general, voted for Bethune, Jenkins and Alexander "Sandy" Nininger of Fort Lauderdale, the first Army soldier to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II.

Douglas, who was 108 when she died in 1998, wrote The Everglades: River of Grass, a 1947 bestseller that foresaw the threats to the sensitive wetland ecosystem and its wildlife that would be posed by development and population growth.

The most surprising nominee was Jenkins, a longtime Lakeland resident who benefited from Polk County's presence on the review committee.

Jenkins is not a household name to most Floridians, but Publix is, and Jenkins founded the state's iconic retail brand in 1930 in Winter Haven with $1,300 in savings.

Publix is known for putting a premium on customer service and its stores were among the first with air conditioning and ATMs.

Jenkins died in 1996 at 88.

Panel member S.L. Frisbee IV, a retired fourth-generation publisher of the Polk County Democrat, was first to nominate Jenkins.

"He established a management model," Frisbee said, "and it's the degree to which he established a customer-centric model for retailing."

Frisbee was appointed to the committee by another Polk native, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

To be nominated, citizens had to be residents of Florida and deceased for at least 10 years.

More than 3,500 people made nominations online. Bethune's 1,237 votes were nearly three times as many as the second-most popular choice, James Weldon Johnson, a teacher, poet, essayist and first African-American admitted to the Florida Bar.

Among those not making the cut were railroad magnate Henry Flagler, author Zora Neale Hurston, civil rights pioneer Harry T. Moore and industrial tycoon John Ringling.

Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] Follow @stevebousquet.

Comments
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott’s first policy idea as a U.S. Senate candidate won’t happen and most of his fellow Republicans don’t support it.But it’s a surefire applause line at political rallies.Scott wants term limits for members of Congress: 12 ye...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18