BROWARD (CBSMiami) – For more than a dozen years, a statue has stood inside the Broward County Courthouse of former Florida Gov. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward.
But now, after revelations regarding Broward’s beliefs on race relations have come to light, Broward County leaders have decided to remove the statue of the former governor.
Broward served as Florida’s governor from 1905 to 1909. His main association to the county while he was in office was his work to drain the Everglades to pave the way for Broward to be the sprawling community it is today.
His statue is being removed because of words he apparently wrote about his belief that whites and blacks could not co-exist and needed to live separately with African-Americans apparently removed from the country.
According to papers found in Broward’s archive at the University of Florida, at some point he wrote, “I fear that at no distant date, the tensions between the races will become so frequent and harmful and as there can be but one result, the destruction of the negro and the degrading of the white man…”
He also wrote that he believed blacks should be transported “to the territory purchased by the United States, the U.S. to organize a government for them of the negro race, to protect them from foreign invasion, and to prevent any white people from living among them on the territory, or to prevent the negroes from migrating back to the United States.”
Lastly he wrote, “(T)he white people have no time to make excuses for the shortcomings of the Negro.”
Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief called the words “very divisive” and said those words have no place in a community like Broward that works to be inclusive and welcoming to all people.
“It’s not that we want to erase history but we’ll take away the painful reminder of it and we’ll put it in a museum or put it where it belongs historically,” she said.
But the obvious question is if the statue has to go, should Broward County’s name be changed as well?
“We feel like that would be very difficult,” Sharief said. “This county’s over 100 years old. And that would take some serious consideration and some serious will of the community and of the board.”
Attorney Harold Pryor is president of the county’s African American Bar Association named after T.J. Roddick, the first Black attorney to open and office and practice law in Broward. Pryor says that a courthouse is a place of fairness, quality and due process and he believes any monument, statue or artwork inside must reflect that.
“The monuments inside that epicenter — the paintings, the monuments — should represent those tenets and if they don’t represent those basic tenets, they shouldn’t be there,” he said.
Sharief believes the statue will wind up in a museum somewhere in the county and she expects the statue to be removed in the coming weeks.
She also said that the statue of governor Broward was donated to the county in the early 80s and that the county did not commission it or pay for it. She said it sat in storage for about a decade before someone decided to put it in the courthouse.