An open letter to the Florida Cabinet and State Legislature
By Commissioner Bill Proctor
Leon County, District One
Special to the Outlook
On the front lawn of the Old Capitol are two demeaning monuments which insult many African Americans and the native citizens of Florida. On behalf of my constituents of good will and conscience, I respectfully request the removal of these incendiary state monuments on the front lawn of our state capitol.
The Seminole Indians are contracted business partners with the State of Florida generating millions of dollars for the State and for themselves. Yet, the State of Florida displays a monument to a Captain John Parkhill on the Capitol east lawn dated November 1857.
On the monument honoring John Parkhill on the front lawn of our State Capitol are the words:
“This monument is erected by his fellow citizens of Leon County Florida as a testimonial of their high esteem for his character and public service. He was killed at Palm Hammock, in South Florida, while leading his company in a charge against the Seminole Indians. November 28, A.D. 1857.”
On the east side of our State Capitol is a statue saluting someone whose “character and public service” is remembered for killing Seminole Indians. On the west side of the capital is Florida State University affectionally called the Seminoles.
Why does the state laud and honor a killer of Seminole Indians on its front lawn while granting millions of public dollars to a university that uses the Seminole name and logo? Equally as stupendous is why is there a monument to John Parkhill when the state earns millions from Seminole Indian Casinos? Something is inconsistent. I ask you to respect all people by eliminating the Parkhill monument, immediately.
Secondly, I request that the other monument on the front lawn of the state capitol to also be removed. This monument states:
“To rescue from oblivion and perpetuate in the memory of succeeding generations the heroic patriotism of the men of Leon County who perished in the Civil War 1861-1865. This monument is raised by their Country Women.”
There should be no monument on state property honoring those who committed acts of treason and sedition against the United States of America. The Confederate idea of patriotism opposes the United States of America. Further, this brand of “patriotism” opposes Black freedom. This statue honoring “heroic patriotism” is of a political flavor that sought to force my family to remain as slaves forever and to wage armed war against the United States.
I, along with millions of Floridians, find this monument to be repulsive, uncivil and a vicious symbol against our humanity and our rights as citizens. Persons who are seditionists and perpetrators of treason against the United States, by definition, are not “patriots”, but terrorists. It is oxymoronic to be both a patriot and a seditionist.
Why does the State of Florida choose to have these two statues on its front lawn? One statue honors a White man for killing Seminole Indians. The second statue honors White men who died to keep Africans as slaves and who fought against the United States government.
Is this the best Florida can do to salute its past by officially insulting those of us who have survived slavery and genocide? I request the state to build two monuments that tribute the collective contributions of African slaves and Native Seminole Indians. These groups have literally given so ‘freely’ to the advancement of Florida. Both races deserve recognition, not insult. There should be a monument that honors and tributes the awesome patriotism and long standing loyalty of Black citizens to this state despite sustaining inhumane cruel treatment during slavery and throughout the era of Jim Crow.
The acts committed to subdue Seminole Indians and subject Africans as slaves were horrific practices of biblical proportion. In the interest of respecting the diverse populations comprising the State of Florida, will you please remove these two monuments and respect Seminole Indians and African American people?
I note both of these monuments are from citizens of Leon County. There are no monuments from citizens from any other county in Florida. Why are Leon County citizens exclusively allowed monuments on the state capitol grounds? Should these monuments, more correctly, be erected on Leon County property instead of the State of Florida?
Please act to unite Floridians by eliminating divisive monuments that insult the public.
Respectfully I seek your help in honoring all citizens.