Letter: Dr King would not be trying to remove inanimate memorials

Gregory White
St Augustine, FL

Dear Historic City News Editor:

The age-old institution of slavery existed in most of St. Augustine’s long and diverse history.  Reminders of it can be seen all over town today including the old fort and many historic buildings.

Our elected local “leadership” continues to debate the removal of the American Civil War Memorial erected by local citizens to simply honor local dead from a conflict that took the lives of nearly 700,000 Americans.

  • I see no objectionable or offensive language accompanying the names of the war dead inscribed on that memorial.
  • If the war was fought to end slavery, why was slavery still practiced in four states that remained in the Union?
  • Why was a fifth state, West Virginia, added to the Union as a slave state on June 20, 1863, nearly six months after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became effective?

Buried at Tolomato Cemetery is Jean Pierre Augustin Verot.  He was the first Bishop of the St Augustine diocese and often referenced as the “Rebel Bishop”.

In 1861 Bishop Verot gave a sermon defending Southern rights and the legal basis for slavery, while condemning the abolition movement.  After the war he asked his parishioners to put away all prejudice (against) their former servants.

The voters of St. Augustine need to apply pressure to the members of the current commission and demand some backbone against a race-hustling “minister” trying to make a name for himself at the expense of local history.

Anthony Welters and Isaac Papino are buried at San Lorenzo Cemetery and honored with government markers denoting their military service to the Confederate States of America.  Both men were Americans of African descent.

  • Since Welters and Papino don’t fit the narrative the St Augustine City Commission wants to portray, perhaps they should all be disinterred and buried elsewhere?
  • Perhaps the old Fort Marion (Castillo de San Marcos) and other notable buildings should be demolished so that some people aren’t reminded of the institutions that erected them?

If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were still living today, I doubt he’d be wasting his time and energy trying to remove inanimate memorials when there are real issues to confront.

Editor’s Note: This is to clarify that St Augustine resident Gregory White is not the same person as Greg B White Sr, a community activist in West Augustine. We apologize for any confusion.