My letter to Tampa Tribune


Mr. Reyes:

I am a member of the Plant City United Daughters of the Confederacy, and also someone that has worked very hard on this memorial to honor the Florida Cow Cavalry.

I was also at the City Commissioners meeting when Commissioner Mathis spoke so vocally in objection to our memorial. As someone that used to work with Mathis’ father for many years at the Cornet Mines, I was somewhat taken back by her remarks, as I always held her and her father in high esteem. From what I understand from the lady that chaired our project, Mrs. Mathis wouldn’t even look over the pamphlet she was given and did not even want to hear anything about it; she had her mind set to be offended no matter what.

Our goal is to honor and pay tribute to the founding fathers of our area. If Mrs. Mathis has an issue with that, then she might want to set about renaming all the streets around Plant City; City Streets might I add, since the names engraved on this memorial and many of the names of our streets are the same. While she is at it, she might want to tackle renaming Fort Bragg and Fort Benning, since these military bases have the names of Confederate Generals. When and where does it end?

I am hurt and taken back by Mrs. Mathis remarks and her stand, and I certainly won’t support her as Commissioner again. I was somewhat proud that we at least had one woman on the Commission, but now I will have to re-think my thoughts on that. She does not speak for the whole of this City, black or white! The only hate or offense that I see are those coming from Commissioner Mathis. The Plant City UDC chapter has worked very hard on making sure this project would not be offensive to anyone. We have a black lady that is a member of our chapter and she too has worked on this project. I wonder why she isn’t offended?

Also I have to tell you, I take exception with your headlines that read, "Civil War Monument Troubles Plant City." Since when did one person speaking suddenly constitute a whole area of people? Kind of mis-leading, don’t you think?!


Sally Knight Raburn
8th Generation Floridian

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Reply from Tribune Reporter


Chuck: Just so your readers don’t attack this reporter. Here is an extremely nice reply from him. Shelby Bender is the lady with the Historical Society that helped us so much in getting this memorial up and past the Commissioners.



Ms. Raburn,

Thank you for your comments. Before I wrote the story yesterday, I spent over an hour with Shelby Bender, sitting on the bench in front of her store, chatting off the record with her then interviewing her for some on-the-record comments and background information. Ms. Bender shares your thoughts on Commissioner Mathis’ reactions. I, too, was surprised at the discussion following the Cow Cavalry presentation—and it seems Commissioner Mathis has hurt people that have considered her a friend or acquaintance.

In my opinion, it wouldn’t have been that big of an issue—and it wouldn’t have been a story that ran in the Tribune’s Metro section today—if the discussion Tuesday night wasn’t so heated or so long. But Commissioner Mathis brought it up during a public forum, I was there as city hall is one of my beats and I wouldn’t have been doing my job if I didn’t write about it.

As for the headline—you’re right. It took a broad swipe at something that was narrowly focused on goings-on at a commission meeting. But the headlines are out of a reporter’s control and are written by our copy editors downtown. In the headline “Plant City” should have been replaced with “Commissioner.”

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write me. I wanted to reply to tell you that, to tell you that I understand the hard work the Daughters of the Confederacy have done over the years to bring the project to fruition and that I appreciate your comments and that they weren’t being ignored.

Thanks again.