Confederate Landmarks at Center of Controversy in Dallas

The decision to remove four prominent statues of Civil War leaders in New Orleans was controversial, and it is igniting discussion in Dallas, too.

The Confederate War Memorial stands in downtown Dallas near the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and features a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis plus those of generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson among others.

While there is no current plan in place for the physical removal of the landmarks in Dallas, some are hopeful that will change.

Some people with whom NBC 5 spoke Thursday called the Confederate War Memorial a piece of history, while others said it's nothing more than hate.

"It's really beautiful but at a time in America right now it's pretty sensitive to talk about, especially with all hate going on," said Terry, a Dallas resident.

He said he's used to seeing historical landmarks like the Confederate War Memorial, but said the recent nationwide debate about removing these types of monuments has him questioning their significance.

"I mean it's beautiful to look at, but what it represents I'm not sure if that's for the majority," he said.

Kyle and Courtney Bridges argued that in a way, the monuments represent an integral part of the fabric of America.

"I do understand how it is wrapped up and symbolizes a certain kind of hatred that's not healthy, but from a historical perspective it makes some sense that it remains, and we can't go blotting out the parts of history that we don't like," Kyle Bridges said.

Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston represents the Oak Lawn area, where a statue of Robert E. Lee leading a Confederate soldier has stood for decades. He says some of his constituents want it removed.

"This is an effort not to preserve history but to distort history," Kingston said. "This issue is not about history, it's not about the Confederacy, it's about racists in Dallas trying to create a distorted picture of history for the purpose of preserving their ability to discriminate."

"It's not a slavery issue. It's an issue of their service," said Gary Bray, commander of the Texas Division of The Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Bray said it would be a travesty to remove the Confederate landmarks.

"Unfortunately hatred exists, but taking down statues and trying to change history doesn't change that," Bray said. "We need to learn to get along together."

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings recently commented on the debate through a Dallas Morning News Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session, saying, "I don't believe it's the mayor's role to decide what statues should be up or should not be up. That being said, I've always been open for discussion for how we create new monuments for the heroes post-Civil War, and I think I would entertain intelligent discussion about how Robert E. Lee's statue would be moved someplace else."

It's a discussion that Kingston says is far from over, and he added "the will of the people is what's important."

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