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Why Jacksonville civil rights activist thinks people should rethink ‘Duval’ chant

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s a popular chant heard at every Jaguars game, especially after the team scores a touchdown -- “Duuuval!”

The chant is in recognition of Duval County being the home of the Jags.

But the county itself was named after Florida Gov. William P. Duval, who Florida Historical Society historians and archivists say owned slaves and made a living off slavery.

Duval was Florida’s governor between 1822 and 1834. According to historians, Duval was a firm believer in the slave economy and an avid defender of slavery and state’s rights throughout his life.

William Duval, courtesy: Florida Historical Society
William Duval, courtesy: Florida Historical Society

When his father eventually emancipated his own slaves, historians say, he strongly disagreed with the decision.

Recently, News4Jax has reported the controversy over the removal of Confederate statues in public parks, including ones in Northeast Florida. In Jacksonville’s Hemming Park, a Confederate memorial was removed overnight on June 8, and Mayor Curry has said others are coming down, too. In St. Augustine, commissionres voted to remove a Confederate monument from the Plaza de la Constitucion.

The decisions come as the country is wrestling with race relations.

Northside Coalition President Ben Frazier has led the fight to remove Confederate statues in public parks because he believes they honor the wrong side of history. He feels the Duval chant does the same.

“We should consider not shouting the name Duval as if he is in some position of honor,” Frazier said.

Conversations about race relations are part of a national movement that began after the death of George Floyd, who died while in custody of Minneapolis police. The movement doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

“What we need to come to grips within this country today is truth, justice and honesty for all, and we need to continue to work until we get there,” Frazier said.


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