Tampa’s Display of Confederate Statues

Increasing protests in the Tampa area call for the removal of Confederate statues and symbols. This flag that waved boastfully on I-75 was removed in response to the Black Lives Matter riots.

Lilia Orengo

Tampa’s Display of Confederate Statues

Liv Baker, Reporter

   In wake of the emerging Black Lives Matter protests, the question is emerging nationwide about the ethics of cities exhibiting Confederate statues and flags. Cities have experienced Confederate statues being defaced and removed around the country, which prompts Tampa citizens to question whether Tampa should allow the celebration of ‘Southern Heritage Month’ or be home to numerous Confederate statues. 

   There have been many reactions to these Confederate symbols, such as local Unity Marches and some extremists even threaten these sites with arson; Tampa and Bradenton have a total of thirteen confederate statues, all of which face removal. 

   The United Daughters of the Confederacy, a Neo-Confederate organization, discourages this removal and recent vandalism. In order to prevent these monuments from destruction, they suggest relocation to museums to preserve these monuments instead.

   Tampa has taken many initiations in the past to be more sensitive to black citizens and tourists. The confederate flag was removed from the seal of Hillsborough County in 1997 and in 2007 the city stopped participation in Southern Heritage Month. Local Robert E Lee Elementary School even faces a name change in response to the increased protests and complaints that.

   In 2017, $140,000 was raised to remove the Confederate monument in front of the Hillsborough County courthouse, this was then moved only thirteen miles south to a local cemetery where it stands today. 

   Donors of this project include former mayor Bob Buckhorn and Tony Dungy, former Buccaneers coach. After remaining in its original place since 1911, it is reported that approximately 130,000 cars pass the monument a day.

   Recently, it is widely debated whether the city of Tampa should remove the Christopher Columbus statue located on Bayshore Avenue. Police have been monitoring the statue since July after protestors are calling for the removal. Some argue that this statue promotes “genocide while overshadowing the slaughtering of thousands of Natives.”

   Former USF student Lilia Orengo created a Change.org petition with over 10,000 supporters to remove the Confederate flag that waves boastfully on Interstate 75. Orengo states “the flag is nothing more than a symbol of division, hate, tension, and terrorism in the history of this century.”

   In response to the death of George Floyd, this Confederate flag on I-75 was removed after protesters threatened to burn down the flag. This flag is notorious for being the second largest Confederate flag in the world, which was erected in 2008 to preserve Southern culture. 


   The Confederate flag is believed by many to inappropriately glorify the legacy of slavery and anti-black policies. During the Civil War, even Tampa subjected black residents to literacy tests and poll taxes, both were attempts to suppress black voters. 

   Tampa’s controversial past gives context to the protestors who threaten vandalism or arson to Confederate statues and symbols. 

   Supporters of Southern Heritage Month believe that the flag celebrates our veterans and that the removal these confederate symbols is a violation of free speech.  The removal of monuments that commemorate ancestors who fought for the Confederate cause is seen as unpatriotic and disrespectful.

   Tampa citizens stand divided on this issue: while some believe that the city must reject these racist symbols in order to prompt real reform in the police system, others believe that these monuments simply celebrate Southern culture and honor the veterans who lost their lives in the Civil War.