(Reuters) – Kentucky on Friday agreed to remove a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from its State Capitol building, the latest action in a renewed drive to take down such monuments in the wake of nationwide protests for racial justice.
In a bipartisan vote, a state historical commission agreed to remove the statue of Davis, president of the short-lived Confederate States of American, from its Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. Democratic Governor Andy Beshear lauded the move, saying it was overdue.
“Today is a move toward showing that everybody is welcome in this building and that our government should work for the betterment of every single Kentuckian,” Beshear said in a statement.
The vote follows weeks of nationwide protests sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd on a Minneapolis street, where a white policeman pressed his knee against the African-American’ man’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
The protests have led to calls for reforms in policing and for the removal of Confederate statues and other symbols of the legacy of slavery that led a group of Southern states to secede from the Union, precipitating the 1861-65 Civil War.
Kentucky was the last state admitted to the Confederacy, although it never formally seceded from the Union. Davis was born in Fairview in western Kentucky but grew up in Mississippi.
On Monday, the Kentucky city of Louisville removed a statue on horseback of former Confederate officer John Castleman, even though he is also remembered for a long, distinguished career as a civic leader in the city for decades following the war.
Statues of Davis have been targets of protesters as well.
On Wednesday, they toppled a Davis monument in Richmond – the capital of Virginia and the longtime capital of the Confederacy.
Other statues of Confederates, as well as of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, have been defaced by protesters as local politicians reconsider their historic significance.
(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)