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Jacksonville Mayor: “White Men” Unable To Understand Why Confederate Statues Must Be Removed

Donna Deegan allegedly told a group of preservation supporters that their skin color prevented them from understanding why Confederate monuments must be erased from history.

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — Local conservative activists claim Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan told them they can’t understand why Confederate monuments should be removed because they are “white men.”

Blake Harper, Gordon Terry and Pat Geer say they met with Deegan on August 23 to advocate for the Jax Unity Project, a conciliatory proposal to contextualize Confederate monuments and install new memorials honoring the contributions of black Americans.

Deegan’s racist comment came during this meeting, according to a follow up email Harper sent to the mayor last week.

“From our perspective, one of the most disturbing parts of our conversation was your assertion during our meeting that we, as ‘three white men,’ could not possibly understand this issue in any meaningful way,” Harper wrote. “It was jarring.”

The Florida Standard contacted Deegan’s office to see if the mayor wanted to respond to Harper’s claims. No response was given.

The trio of activists were hoping to talk Deegan out of removing the 47-foot “Women of the Southland” monument erected in 1915 to honor women whose husbands, sons, fathers and brothers died fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

A majority of Jacksonville residents oppose removing Confederate monuments, according to a UNF poll from February.

READ MORE: Jacksonville’s First Female Mayor Wants to Tear Down Historic Statue Honoring Women
“Women of the Southland” was erected to honor women of the Confederacy who lost their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers during the Civil War (Wikimedia Commons). 


In his email, Harper also warned the mayor that taking down the statue won’t appease Take Em Down Jax or North Side Coalition – the local BLM groups demanding its removal.

“Every argument and claim used to justify the removal of the ‘Women of the Southland’ monument could also be used to ‘cancel’ our city’s namesake, Andrew Jackson,” he wrote. “[Take Em Down Jax] have repeatedly stated their intention to agitate for the renaming of Jacksonville's bridges, streets, public buildings, and geographical landmarks bearing the names of any figure from Jacksonville’s past that offends their 21st century sensibilities.”

The mayor appears to be closely aligned with these radical groups. Following her election victory in May, Deegan appointed Take Em Down Jax activist Hope McMath to her transition team. McMath calls the Confederate flag a “hate symbol” and Wells Todd, another activist with Take Em Down Jax, has publicly advocated for socialism.


Deegan’s commitment to removing the Women of the Southland statue aligns with a promise made by her Republican predecessor, Lenny Curry, who vowed to erase all vestiges of the Confederacy from public spaces.

On June 9, 2020, Curry ordered the removal of the city's most prominent Confederate monument. He did so by executive fiat – which many believe was unlawful – and without public notice. Construction crews operated in the middle of the night under the cover of darkness.

Curry marched with the group of angry BLM protesters and promised that he would erase all historical markers related to the Confederacy, including a sign that marks a burial ground for soldiers who died in battle.

READ MORE: Jacksonville’s Lame Duck Mayor Rips Down More Historic Monuments in Final Days