JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Demonstrators will set out next month on a three-day, 40-mile walk from Jacksonville to St. Augustine, aimed at calling for the removal of Confederate monuments.
"March for Change," scheduled for the third week of May, was announced during a news conference Tuesday afternoon outside City Hall in downtown Jacksonville.
One of the organizers said it's not a march against bronze, marble or metal, but it's about objecting to the racism the statues represent.
"These statues represent that symbolic behavior erected during the Jim Crow era," said Lauren Cephas, with the Black Commission.
Members of Take 'Em Down Jax and Take 'Em Down St. Augustine had several other local activist groups join them at Tuesday's announcement.
”This is a march to tell the story about racism, the racism these monuments actually represent," said Ben Frazier, with Tax 'Em Down Jax and the Northside Coalition. "We’re talking about white privilege. We’re talking about white supremacy. We’re talking about the terror of the Ku Klux Klan.”
Members of the groups and others plan to walk from Jacksonville to the Ancient City. The march will begin May 17 and end with a rally scheduled May 19 in St. Augustine.
Confederate Soldiers Memorial, a 62-foot granite shaft erected in Hemming Park in 1898 is topped by a Confederate soldier at rest. A bronze plaque at the base honors Gens. J.J. Dickinson, Kirby Smith, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. It was taken down June 9, 2020.
"In Jacksonville, St. Augustine and all around Florida, we see Confederate statues, Confederate school names romanticized, or worse, ignored by people who understand these symbols represent white supremacy," said Michael Todd, with New Florida Majority.
The groups said the walk will focus specifically on removing four monuments, two in Jacksonville and two in St. Augustine:
"People who think that statues should stay up don't understand the real history of the United States," said Wells Todd, with the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition. "We're here to say we're going to walk from that statue to the statue in St. Augustine that's in a place where they used to sell slaves."
While the march focuses specifically on four monuments, the groups said, one of the main goals is to "connect the dots of the color line of what happened in history to what's happening today."