CNN – Chloe Coney remembers what it was like to be one of the first black students to attend Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Florida, in the 1960s.
The 66-year-old remembers classmates calling her insulting names including the n-word. She remembers fearing for her safety at a pep rally as students waved the Confederate Flag and sang “I Wish I Was in Dixie.”
She shared those memories with Hillsborough County commissioners Wednesday as she implored them to remove a statue of a Confederate soldier from in front of a Tampa courthouse.
“This little 16-year-old girl started crying because it was my ancestors who’d been beaten and raped in the land of cotton,” she said in a phone interview Wednesday recalling her comments. “This little girl needed healing from the tragic emotional trauma that was placed on us.”
Coney took to the podium Wednesday in the packed chambers looking for solace. Behind her, people in the gallery held signs that said “Americans build monuments; we don’t remove them.” She left disappointed when commissioners decided 4-3 to keep the monument.
Instead, after nearly three hours of contentious debate, they voted to add a mural behind the monument to showcase what one member called “the love and diversity” in the community.
“If we don’t look for a compromise or consensus, there’s going to be hatred and anger that could last for decades,” Commissioner Victor Crist said…