North Texas

Dallas' Debate Over Confederate Names Roars Back

New list of 13 changes before Dallas City Council

The debate over Confederate monuments, street names and parks roared up again in Dallas Monday as a City Council committee took up 13 recommendations from the Mayor's Task Force.

It comes amid lingering bitterness over removal last month of the Robert E. Lee statue from an uptown park.

"I do feel strongly that the council went way too fast when we removed the Lee statue," Councilwoman Sandy Greyson said. "We short-circuited a process that the mayor laid out in August that was meant to unite this city. Instead what we did was divide this city."

Greyson was the only City Council member to vote against removing the Lee statue. Councilman Rickey Callahan, who also opposed it, was out of the room at the time of that vote.

He spoke against changes Monday.

"I felt like this was a slippery slope, because, candidly, once you get started, you can never stop," Callahan said.

The new recommendations include removing another monument from the Pioneer Cemetery downtown, changing Confederate street names, changing the name of "Confederate Cemetery" that's in a predominately African-American neighborhood and adding a plaque commemorating the 1922 lynching of a black man at the corner of Main and Akard streets downtown.

"In 1936 when these monuments went up, what was going on in Dallas? What was the Dallas City Council like? Who was the council made up of at that time? History is often told by individuals who are able to tell the story," said Councilman Casey Thomas, who is an African-American man.

Since the Lee statue removal, council members have been deluged with correspondence from people who opposed it and claim their voices were not heard.

Even members who strongly supported removing the Lee statue spoke in favor of a slower approach to the new steps Monday, to allow more time for public comment.

A public hearing is scheduled at Dallas City Hall Wednesday night at 6 p.m.

Without voting on individual recommendations, the committee Monday decided only to send all 13 to a full city council briefing on Nov. 1 that will follow Wednesday's public hearing.

"I heard from many people who felt we went too fast and there wasn't enough public input," said Councilman Philip Kingston. "And those are the same people that didn't want it done."

One statue removal opponent was Joann Turner, with the Dallas Southern Memorial Association.

"And it's just not fair," she said. "It's a kangaroo court. I don't like the way the city council has gone forward with this. It is not right."

She was particularly upset Monday with remarks from Kingston about Ku Klux Klan involvement in the original 1936 Lee statue creation.

"The Daughters of the Confederacy and the Southern Monument Association both have proven ties to the KKK," Kingston said. "To deny that the people who raised money for the statue are connected to the KKK is simply false."

Turner said she is a member of the Southern Monument Association and it is not connected to the KKK.

"That really upsets me. The KKK were bandits. They wore sheets. They couldn't have raised money if they had to. So, why in the world is Philip Kingston still saying that?" Turner said.

Councilman Adam McGough agreed to a slower process for the new recommendations but defended the nearly unanimous city council decision to remove the Lee statue.

"It's about history of a war, but it's about the history of Dallas, and it's about where we are today and the messages we want to send today with who we are and what kind of community and city we are," McGough said.

The Lee statue remains in temporary storage at Hensley Field in Dallas. The estimated cost to remove and store it is $450,000. One recommendation is to put the Lee statue in a museum, but no museum has volunteered to accept it.

The 65-foot-tall Confederate Monument at Pioneer Cemetery may be too big for a museum. City officials said the cost to remove that monument could be $500,000. The location in a cemetery is an additional concern.

The city has a process for renaming streets that provides for separate public input. Many residents and businesses could be affected by the change.

The City Park Board gets the final say on renaming parks. It already voted to change Lee Park to Oak Lawn Park, but the former Lee Park name still remained in the park Monday. A Park Department official said a new process for park naming is in the works.

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