A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

State lawmakers call for removal of Jefferson Davis statue from Capitol rotunda

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

A rally in the State Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday saw bi-partisan calls to have the statue of Confederate President and Kentucky native Jefferson Davis removed.

The “One People, One Commonwealth” rally included Republican state Treasurer Alison Ball, who called for Kentuckians to unite.

“We love our country, we love our Commonwealth, we love all of our people in this state, and we hate our divisions.” She said she encourages moving the statue out of the rotunda.

Lawmakers and others called for the removal of the Jefferson Davis statute in the State Capitol at a rally on Wednesday. (Kentucky Today/Tom Latek)

Former state Treasurer Johnathan Miller, a Democrat, said four of the five statues are of healers: Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, Alban Barkley and Dr. Ehpraim McDowell.

“Jefferson Davis is just the opposite. What he’s a symbol of today is one of division, of trying to tear our country apart and, in essence, tearing our state apart.”

State Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, remembered his first trip to the Capitol as a student.

“I’m here today on behalf of those students who will one day come here and wonder why is this statue here? Why are we honoring this person? How do I explain why Kentucky continues to honor someone who, as President of the Confederacy, was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Kentuckians? There’s really no good answer as to why he is here.

“Some people say the statue is a sign of history and as a historical marker belongs here,” Schroder added. “I disagree. Because of its historical context, it belongs in a museum, not in a place of honor.”

Schroder went on to denounce the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, saying “your hate is not welcome here. We can make Kentucky and this Capitol a better place with the simple removal of one statue.”

Former Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Northern Kentucky resident, said Charlottesville hit close to home, because the man accused of driving into the crowd, killing one person and injuring a number of others, was also from there, and grew up minutes from his home.

“We have to draw the line when it comes to hate and racism. That was what was so horrible about what happened this past weekend and some of the reaction from some of the leaders of our country in not drawing that line.”

As for the Davis statue, Grayson said: “We need to put that into a museum. We don’t need to sanitize history, we don’t need to get rid of it. It was a big part of our history. But it shouldn’t be here in the Rotunda. If we need to leave the spot blank until we feel the best way to honor somebody, that’s fine.”

Ultimately, it will be up to the Historic Properties Advisory Commission to decide if the statue should stay or go, and what would take its place.

Tom Latek can be reached at tom.latek@kentuckytoday.com

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