An online petition is calling for the city of Denton to name June 9 "Willie Hudspeth Day" to commemorate the Denton County Commissioners' vote to relocate a Confederate monument that Hudspeth fought to move for 21 years.
“I think God is going show me what he wants me to do,” Hudspeth said. “Here we are, June 2020, he showed me.”
At Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, Denton County Judge Andy Eads announced the monument outside of the historic Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square would be moved. It was erected in 1918.
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“Our collective decision is not one taken lightly. However, in weighing the potential for future harm to our businesses, potential for harm to anyone who might seek to destroy it and the enforcement resources needed to protect it, we believe relocation is the next right step,” Eads said at the meeting. “Some may view this as a symbolic victory, but at the end of the day, this is a matter of public safety."
The reasons for the removal gave Willie Hudspeth pause, but he said he was pleased with the decision to relocate a monument he feels is divisive to the community.
Hudspeth pointed to the inscription at the base of the monument, “If you notice, the wording on it is ‘Our Confederate soldiers.’”
“You have to define who is ‘our’ - it certainly isn’t mine,” Hudspeth said.
For many Sundays over the last 21 years, Hudspeth, a retired teacher, held signs and protested in front of the monument. He also became a regular at commissioners court meetings – challenging the monument’s place in the downtown square.
Hudspeth, a Vietnam War veteran, said he listened to those who felt the memorial was meant to honor soldiers from Denton County, but ultimately disagreed.
“This is not for the solider, I don’t think. I think it was to put it in a prominent position to show honor to that cause," Hudspeth said.
Over two decades of protest, Hudspeth said he initially wanted to see the monument torn down, then later, called for it to be moved off the square.
“I call it a journey. Things started changing for me. I stopped being so radical and angry and vindictive, thinking this is for all of us and I need to compromise,” Hudspeth said. “And so, I compromised in some areas.”
It’s not yet clear where the monument will go. Hudspeth said he would like it moved to a cemetery – where he said he can put the more than two decades old battle to rest.
“I’m so glad I did it that way because now I have a voice,” he said.