Passage of the city budget this week was a big victory for Blake Harper and his Unity Project.
Included in the budget was a provision that cut off Mayor Lenny Curry’s attempt to tear down a statue dedicated to widows and children.
The council thereby stated that it would determine the future of the monument.
In his proposed budget, Curry had included an item in the Capital Improvement Fund for $500,.000 to tear down a monument to a Southern woman and her children, which has been in a Springfield park for more than a century. Earlier, Curry had spirited away a century-old statue from a park in front of City Hall in the dead of night.
But the council will now determine when – or if — the remaining statue will be removed.
Councilman Aaron Bowman proposed the amendment and everyone on the Finance Committee voted for it, including Democrats, except for Councilman Matt Carlucci, who advocates tearing down the monument.
Harper’s Unity Project has sought to leave the monument for its historical and sentimental value but add context by taking steps to recognize the history of slaves prior to the Civil War and the achievements of Jacksonville residents with black skin.
As he has noted, the City Council Task Force on Civil Rights History looked at many local issues but did not recommend tearing down the monument to widows and children. Had it been a community priority they would have done so, he contends.
Liberals have demanded that the statue be removed. At the last council meeting, Harper referred to three of the effort’s leaders as “the liar, the cheat and the thief.”
Curry has said he would proceed with “community conversations” about the issue. This is what was done before the passage of the controversial Human Rights Ordinance, and it was a dog-and-pony show meant to sell the proposal, not further any debate. Curry and the late Tommy Hazouri succeeded in getting it passed, granting special rights to some segments of the community in the hope of getting their votes. Harper is a human dynamo who has been covering the history issue like the dew covers Dixie. He attends every committee and council meeting. One council member said at an event, “Blake attends more council meetings than some council members do.”
Harper’s proposal to add to the historical knowledge of the city certainly is preferable to the agenda of those who want to revise the nation’s history and make it a liberal fairytale. He also has been active in pro-life issues.