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Opinion: It’s time for Old Joe to go
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Downtown Gainesville's Old Joe statue is clean of graffiti Monday, June 1, 2020, after vandals painted the base of the monument the night before during protests downtown. - photo by Scott Rogers

To understand why the issue of the Confederate monument in the Gainesville square is so contentious, one should spend some time researching the history and context of its being there. Two things stand out clearly: 1) The year it was erected (1909) was in a period of terror experienced by African Americans across the South, with Jim Crow laws, lynchings and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. 2) The United Daughters of the Confederacy who erected the monument promoted the "Lost Cause" mythology, which defended slavery and promoted white supremacy. Other monuments they constructed honored Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the slave trader and first grand wizard of the KKK.

I can't understand how there is even controversy surrounding the issue. It is shameful that here in 2020 this symbol of oppression glorifying a dark time in history still stands. It belongs in a museum, not the public square.

The Gainesville community has had the foresight and energy to transform the downtown square into a beautiful and vibrant place. Let's continue that vision with a new space on the square for outdoor art or even a children's play area, which can be celebrated by all of the community.

Bob Brooksher


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