It took City Council members 17 minutes of deliberation on Aug. 17, 2015, to vote on changing Lake City’s logo, opting to remove the Confederate flag.
However, more than five months after the vote to recreate the logo, a permanent change hasn’t been found yet, and for now, the city is using an interim one.
“Believe me, we are not sitting on it. We are working on it,” said Councilman Eugene Jefferson, who seconded the motion in August 2015 made by Councilman Zack Paulk to retire the existing logo and create a new one.
At the time, City Manager Wendell Johnson suggested a three-month time period to recreate the logo, but a concrete timeline hasn’t been established.
“I hate to put a time frame for it,” Jefferson said, estimating that the logo will be done by the end of 2016. “We did say three months, and it was removed within three months. But we have not replaced it within the three-month window.
“The time frame doesn’t matter that much to me as opposed to the feelings of our residents and our community.”
The removed logo showed a Confederate flag and a Union flag and depicted the Battle of Olustee, the one major Civil War battle fought in Florida. Lake City remembers the battle through its annual Olustee Festival and Olustee Battle Reenactment.
An older version of the logo included only one flag, the Confederate flag.
Two separate meetings were held by the City Council during which members of the community had the opportunity to voice their thoughts and concerns on changing the logo.
“This issue came up again. There was a lot of community concern about the current logo,” Jefferson said. “If it was going to be divisive as it is in our community, we are better off without it. We need to change it and have something to represent our entire community and our entire city that wouldn’t be as divisive.”
For months following the final 5-0 vote in favor of changing the logo, white tape could be seen covering the Confederate flag in the existing logo on city vehicles, equipment and buildings, Shillinglaw said.
Because the design should be reflective of the Lake City community as a whole, there is no need to rush for a replacement, said Johnson, who is managing the design of the new logo.
“I hope it will affect our community in a positive way,” Johnson said. “But obviously, there will be some in disagreement of it, and there will be some who are in favor of it. Overall, I think it’s the best thing for our community, and I think the community will accept it in a positive way in the long run.”
James Shillinglaw, a member of the board of directors at the Museum of Southern History in Jacksonville, spoke in favor of keeping the logo at the August 2015 meeting. He said the change in the logo would affect Southern history in a negative light.
“If they take the logo off, it becomes forgotten about,” he said. “People don’t see it. They don’t talk about it. They don’t remember it.”
Johnson said there is a pressure to be neutral, and similar issues have arisen in many other states across the country.
“Cultural heritage is certainly ingrained to some very deeply, and the feeling of losing that heritage by direction of the government is not always met with respect or any sense of cooperation,” he said. “Personally, I have a Confederate heritage. Certainly no one can take that away from me.”
Johnson said the decision was challenging but made with respect for the community and that the city is trying to move forward.
“We thought maybe it’s time to find something more conducive to being, one, not offensive to any sector of society and, two, being representative of Florida as a Florida agency and the Gateway of Florida,” he said, noting the city’s slogan.
Johnson sees the tension surrounding the removal of the flag from the logo as a passing feeling.
“All things come to pass, and this, too, will pass.”