Jefferson County Judge Robinson announced back in April 2019 that he was considering the removal of the monument from the courthouse grounds on the basis that it is an inappropriate symbol for public display.
The death of George Floyd is sparking a national outrage to remove Confederate statues by protesters but one man, backed up by community support, has been advocating to remove a Confederate monument that he sees every time he goes to work.
The Pine Bluff Confederate Monument is located in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse, at Barraque and Main Streets in Pine Bluff. It depicts a standing Confederate Army soldier, holding a rifle.
According to the Mark K. Christ, of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Pine Bluff Confederate Monument was a commemorative sculpture erected in 1910 on the grounds of Pine Bluff High School by the David O. Dodd Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to commemorate a young spy and the area men who had served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
It was later moved to the grounds of the Jefferson County Courthouse in 1974 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
A military veteran himself, Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson, said the statue reminds the community of a time that Jefferson County doesn’t represent.
In a 2019 interview with Arkansas Times, Robinson said he felt in today’s time people are trying to move on, especially when dealing with racial harmony.
“I don’t think the Confederate statue depicts our country,” said Robinson, who still feels the same today.
The sculpture represents a Confederate infantryman and with its base stands about twenty feet tall.
The north side of the base is inscribed “TO THE MEMORY OF / OUR CONFEDERATE / SOLDIERS / WE CARE NOT WHENCE THEY CAME, / DEAR IN THEIR LIFELESS CLAY. / WHETHER KNOWN OR UNKNOWN TO FAME / THEIR CAUSE AND COUNTRY STILL THE SAME: / THEY DIED AND WORE THE GRAY.” Beneath that is inscribed “THIS TABLET IS INSCRIBED TO / J. ED MURRAY, COLONEL / OF THE FIFTH ARKANSAS REGIMENT. / KILLLED AT THE BATTLE OF ATLANTA / JULY 22, 1864 / AGE 21 YEARS.”
The west side of the base is inscribed “ERECTED BY THE DAVID OWEN DODD CHAPTER, / UNITED DAUGHTERS / OF THE CONFEDERACY / NOVEMBER 10, 1910 / IN LEGIONS AND LAY / OUR HEROES IN GRAY / SHALL FOREVER LIVE / OVER AGAIN FOR US.” The south side of the base is inscribed with the date range 1861–1865 over crossed flags above the word “CONFEDERATE.”
The east side is inscribed “A TRIBUTE TO DAVID OWEN DODD / OUR MARTYR HERO. / HANGED AT LITTLE ROCK / AS A SPY / JANUARY 8, 1864 / AGE SEVENTEEN YEARS. / HE WAS OFFERED LIFE AND / LIBERTY BUT PREFERRED TO / DIE RATHER THAN PROVE / FALSE TO HIS TRUST.”
Robinson acknowledges the historical significance of the monument, but he said the history reflected by it refers to a time in American history when slavery tore apart the nation and mired it in a civil war that has cast a shadow ever since.
Robinson announced back in April 2019 that he was considering the removal of the monument from the courthouse grounds on the basis that it is an inappropriate symbol for public display.
He reached an agreement with the local UDC chapter to move the statue to the Camp White Sulphur Springs Confederate Cemetery but a year later the monument still stands facing Martha Mitchell Highway due to financial goals not yet made to support the costly removal.
Though private donors have contributed, Robinson said funds are still needed.
His plan is to have the statue removed by the end of the year or the early part of next year, but says the cost to preserve the structural integrity of the statue is expensive.
“My feelings will always stay the same,” said Robinson. “It’s a constant reminder of that time and we don’t want to represent that in Jefferson County.”