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Hernando County NAACP president wants Confederate statue outside courthouse removed

He'd like to see it relocated to the cemetery.
Credit: Frank Wiley / 10 Tampa Bay
A statue honoring Confederate soldiers stands outside the Hernando County Courthouse in Brooksville, Fla.

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Reminders of dark times sit in the shadows of the Hernando County Courthouse. Paul Douglas said he’s been fighting for decades to break white supremacy.

“Bothers me. That seriously bothers me,” said Hernando County NAACP President Paul Douglas.  

Douglas wants the Confederate statue that stands outside the courthouse removed.

“What about my heritage?” asked Douglas. “I have been in every Civil Rights march since I was in the fifth grade.”    

Now, in his 70s, Douglas knows this fight is bigger than him. 

“I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. I was on the bus boycott. My mother and father were involved with the NAACP,” Douglas said.

Douglas said he has asked county officials to remove the statue, but he’s gotten nowhere. Last year, he participated in a Black Lives Matter rally near the courthouse but said threats were present. That’s why he’s considering leaving Florida.

“Out in the middle of the street, were Ku Klux Klan members with machetes,” said Douglas. “When I started raising hell about that statue, they took it and moved it closer to the street. They put flowers around it.”    

He said the county tried dressing up an ugly symbol.  

10 Tampa Bay asked Hernando County officials about removing the statue. This was the response: 

At the June 23, 2020 regular Hernando County Board of County Commission meeting, the Board gave direction for the addition of a statue memorializing local African American significance through community stakeholder recommendation. At this time, the community has formed a committee to move forward with this direction. Once the scope of this project is decided by the community stakeholders, it will come to the Board for endorsement to move forward. 

Dr. Carleah East, a psychologist, said several years into a fight, the psyche bruises.  

“Trauma is consistent emotional pulls and tears that happen in our lives,” said Dr. East.  

Dr. East said long-term exposure to racism changes people.   

“Complex trauma, which is probably what he’s experiencing a lot more of: it’s when you’ve already gone through something traumatic on level one. And you think it has been resolved, or at least leading into some resolution of improvement. And then you see history play itself all over again.”   

As for the statue, Paul said he’s found the best spot for this statue: up the road a few blocks, at the cemetery.  

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