A Statue of the Founder of Publix Could Replace Confederate General in U.S. Capitol

A Statue of the Founder of Publix Could Replace Confederate General in U.S. Capitol
Photo by Alexf, WikiCommons

Floridians often joke about Publix being our one shared pride as a state. Whether Republican or Democrat; North Floridians or South; white, black, Latino, or otherwise, it seems the one thing that the vast majority of residents can completely agree upon is that we love a good Publix supermarket. Shopping there is, as we all know, an absolute pleasure. 

We know this, and yet we didn't expect that a special panel assembled by the state government would recommend honoring Publix and its founder George Jenkins in a very special way in the U.S. Capitol building. That's right, Florida could send a statue of Jenkins to sit in Washington, D.C. 

The National Statuary Hall houses two statues from each state, honoring their most historic and important citizens in the halls of the U.S. Capitol building. 

One of Florida's two original choices was Confederate U.S. Army Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, an obscure general of an army that fought to keep slavery legal. Not exactly a good look. After the Charleston church shooting, Floridians decided it was time for Smith to be replaced with a more appropriate choice. 

The statue of Smith.
The statue of Smith.
Courtesy of U.S. Capitol

Today an ad hoc committee of the state's Great Floridians Program met to select the three finalists who should replace him. Here are your contestants: 

  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the famed environmental activist and mother of the Everglades preservation movement. 
  • Mary McLeod Bethune, an educator, Florida civil rights icon, and adviser to Franklin D. Roosevelt. 
  • George Jenkins, the Publix guy. 

The panel selected the finalists from 259 names submitted by Floridians (many of which had to be thrown out because they were fictional characters). 

Douglas and Bethune have dominated the conversation since the beginning of the movement to replace Smith. Their finalist status is no surprise. Jenkins is really the only shocker on the shortlist. 

By the way, the other Florida person honored in the Statuary Hall is John Gorrie, a doctor who invented an early form of air conditioning. So, yes, there's a chance Florida could end up paying homage to A/C and good supermarket subs in the U.S. Capitol. Talk about Publix and chill. 

The state Legislature will have the final say, and the vote will, in all likelihood, come down to Douglas and Bethune. Either would become just the tenth woman honored in the hall.

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