Florida Pastor Willie D. Lee Says There’s No Need to Take Down Confederate Monuments if the Monuments Remain in People’s Hearts

People march on MLK Day in St. Augustine, FL
People march on MLK Day in St. Augustine, FL

As he spoke to a crowd of people about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. near a Confederate memorial in St. Augustine, FL’s Plaza de la Constitucion, local Pastor Willie D. Lee took a moment to talk about monuments.

His speech focused on King’s legacy, and he described the challenges King and others faced during the civil rights movement.

“You can’t change what happened. … Removing monuments and removing other things is not going to change what happened in the past,” he said. “If we can’t change our heart, moving a monument is nothing because the monument is still in your heart. … We’ve got to change from within. We’ve got to change the way we think. Look around you. You’ve got all races around us today. This shows us that God is bringing us together.”

The city of St. Augustine recently decided to keep its Plaza monument, which lists the names of local men who died serving the Confederacy. Others are still fighting the city’s decision and want that and another monument removed — the Rev. Ron Rawls, pastor of St. Paul AME Church in St. Augustine, plans to stage a protest at the next St. Augustine City Commission meeting.

An estimated 150-200 walked from St. Paul AME Church to the Plaza on Monday to honor King and to hear a message from Lee, pastor of House of Faith Church on King Street.

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The St. Augustine Record