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Our Initiative to Denounce "Eternal Vigil's" Racist Dedication Speech

Project Say Something initiated its collaboration with the Florence City Council December 2023, regarding the installation of a marker denouncing the racist dedication speech tied to the "Eternal Vigil" Confederate monument. A speech in which the Black citizens of Florence were referred to as a "mongrel race." Our goal was aimed to address historical injustices and promote truth and reconciliation within the community. Over several months, PSS engaged in discussions with council members, collaborated on the marker's verbiage, and garnered community support for the project.

However, despite these efforts and assurances from some council members, the City Council ultimately voted against the marker's approval. This decision, particularly the inconsistency demonstrated by Councilman Dick Jordan, who initially supported the marker but then voted against it, and the absence of several council members during the vote, has left PSS and the community feeling disappointed and betrayed.

This outcome is a significant setback in the ongoing struggle for racial justice and historical accuracy in Florence. The City Council's actions not only contradict their previous commitments but also undermine the trust and collaboration between PSS and the council. Despite this setback, PSS remains resolute in its mission to confront systemic racism and advocate for equity and inclusion within the community.

Though our marker will not be displayed physically in Florence, we feel it is vital to continue to say something. Below you will find the original verbiage for the marker we worked so tirelessly to erect, created entirely by Project Say Something staff, board, and community supporters.

The City of Florence Denounces Racism and Confederate Monuments 

​Following the defeat of the South in the Civil War, the violent white terrorism of Black people quickly spread as a form of resistance to equal rights. In 1903 Dr. H.A. Moody delivered the dedication speech for the Confederate monument located here at the Lauderdale County Courthouse entitled “Eternal Vigil”. In this speech, Moody said “nowhere here [are Black people] accorded social equality”. He also referred to Black people as the “mongrel race”. 

We understand that Confederate monuments were erected to memorialize the men who fought for the South in the Civil War. However, we know the cause  was to defend the institution of slavery. We also understand that this confederate monument was erected 38 years after the end of the Civil War as an attempt to instill fear and hopelessness into Black Lauderdale county citizens. The decision to place a Confederate monument at a courthouse reiterates the belief that not only should Black people never be socially equal,  they should never be equal under law. We strongly denounce the confederate monument, “Eternal Vigil”, and the racist language from its dedication speech.

 

Never again will we silence the voices of Black citizens advocating for their rights

 

Never again will the people of Florence, AL utilize racist tools of intimidation as a means to oppress the value of it’s Black citizens

 

Never again will the city of Florence  memorialize white supremacy in public spaces

 

Never will Florence, AL LIE about what the confederacy represents

Never again, will the people of Florence,AL choose dehumanization and bigotry to intimidate Black citizens. 

The Lauderdale County Confederate Monument does not reflect the beliefs and values of the Florence, AL community. 

 

Back of Marker

The City of Florence  stands strong and disapproves of any social injustice and oppression to our fellow citizens.  We do not promote violence or any form of hate towards mankind.  As leaders in our community, we encourage all to live as peacemakers, as we continue to embrace and evolve in helping to bring change to humanity in a more inclusive era. 

In loving, living memory of the enslaved people sold in Florence, AL

REDICK, EDY, SYNTHA, JIM, SARY ANN, WINNEY, DICK, MARY, HENRY, SAM, ANJALINE, JOHN, POPE, JOHN, JOURNEY, VINA, LEE, LOUCINDA, TIGUE, DILSA, PEGGY, MOSES, POLLARD, ISAAC, JOHN, KITT, SUSAN, MANDA, LOUISA, CHARLOTTE, FRANK,JANE, JINNEY, ALFRED, AND GREENE, ESTHER, SANDFORD, LEVI, DANIEL, ROBIN, and MAC, CURRIER and FINISHER, TWNETY INDIVIDUALS enslaved by Mary A. Moffet, HANNAH, MAN ABOUT 23 YEARS OF AGE (a first rate waggoner and a good field hand), YOUNG WOMAN WITH 4 CHILDREN (ALL BOYS), LIKELY BLACK WOMAN (good Cook, Washer and Ironer), ALLEN, DOLLY, NANCY, MOSES, RANDAL, MATILDA, ADELINE, ALEXANDER; CHARLES, ANTHONY; MARY; HARRIET, DANIEL, VINA, ENOCH, and MARINDA, GRACE, BECKY, JULIA, LAURA, JAKE, ELEVEN INDIVIDUALS enslaved by Geo. Roach, JUNE, EMELINE, JOSEPH, JAMES, CHRISTOPHER, BLACK BOY enslaved by T.W. Young, EPHRAIM, NINETEEN INDIVIDUALS enslaved by Letita Sloss, FOURTEEN LIKELY BLACK INDIVIDUALS enslaved by James Whitehead, HARVEY, RACHEL, ALECK, MARY, SANDY, RICHARD, MARTHA, SUSAN, JIM, WALKER, PARALEE, CHANEY ANN, NARCISSA, CHARLOTTE, LOTTY, ANNE, ROBERT, ALECK BILL, MARTHA, ISAAC, FANNY, CHARLES, RACHEL, MARGARET, KESIA,

SALLIE, JOHNNY, and BECKY, CLARA, LIBERTY, RUBEN, WASH, MAT, PALER, MANDY, TEN ENSLAVED INDIVIDUALS enslaved by William Fuqua, TWO INDIVIDUALS enslaved by Z.P. Morrison.

May you never be forgotten.

For Press, Contact:

Camille Bennett, 

Founder and Executive Director

Ky Ransom-Davis,

Director of Communications

(256) 415-0104 | Camille Bennett

(404) 202-3698 | Ky Ransom-Davis

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