FRANKFORT – The controversial statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the Capitol rotunda could be removed as early as next year. On Wednesday, Aug. 12, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said he would file legislation during the 2016 General Assembly to move the statue to the Kentucky History Center in downtown Frankfort.
Stumbo, who said it was “inappropriate” to display the statue in the seat of state government, confided he would introduce a resolution early in the legislative session to have the statue move out of the Capitol. The legislative session will begin in January 2016.
Recently, a Bluegrass Poll showed that 73 percent of Kentuckians think the statue should not be moved.
Earlier in the month, the state Historic Proprieties Advisory Commission voted 7-2 to keep the statue in the Capitol.
Currently, the statue stands with statues of four other prominent Kentuckians, including President Abraham Lincoln.
Davis was born in Kentucky and grew up in plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Multiple memorials to Davis have become controversial. Washington State Route 99 bears the name of Jefferson Davis Highway and in 2002, the state’s House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that would have removed Davis’ name from the road. A committee of the state’s Senate, however, stopped the proposal.
In 2011, the County Board of Arlington County, Virginia, voted to change the name of Old Jefferson Davis Highway, the original route of Jefferson Davis Highway in the county, after the Board’s chairman made disparaging remarks about Davis. However, the name of Jefferson Davis Highway itself, a portion of U.S. 1 that only the Virginia General Assembly could rename, remained unchanged.
In May 2015, the student government at the University of Texas at Austin voted almost unanimously to remove the statue of Davis, which is located on campus and has been vandalized several times. University of Texas officials convened a task force to determine whether or not to remove the statue. Earlier in the month, on August 13, UT President Gregory Fenves released a statement that the statue would be relocated to an educational exhibit in the university’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.
Steve LeMaster is the editor of The Floyd County Times. He can be reached at (606) 886-8506.