Debate Grows Over Confederate Monuments in Dallas

There are multiple petitions circulating in Dallas calling for the removal of Confederate statues and symbols from public spaces and schools.

Dr. Michael Phillips has an ancestor who fought for the Confederate Army in the Civil War, but he believes that family member and other members of the Confederacy do not deserve to be honored or memorialized in public spaces.

"These statues are not history, they're propaganda," Phillips said. "These statues don't accurately inform people about the era. They hero-ify people without details about their defense of slavery, the individual cruelty they were responsible for, the fact that the Confederacy was engaged in treason."

Phillips is behind one of two petitions started this week calling for the removal of Confederate statues and symbols from public spaces and public schools in Dallas.

He's circulating his petition among academics and members of the clergy before he takes the issue to the Dallas City Council.

"You walk by these monuments and you see a gigantic statue of Robert E. Lee. He's larger than life and he's presented as a hero. You [learn] nothing about Lee's role as a slave owner, you [learn] nothing about Lee's role in a war of treason that killed three-quarters-of-a-million Americans," Phillips said. "None of that is presented in these statues."

Several members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans told NBC 5 the statues and the men they represent are vital to telling the complete story of the American Civil War.

They believe the statues have an especially important place in Dallas because they honor men who answered the call to defend Texas. To those who oppose Phillips's efforts and other like it around the country generals like Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson are military veterans who deserve to be honored even though they fought for the Confederacy.

Phillips said it was a disgrace to consider these men veterans and disingenuous to say that they were not fighting for the right to own slaves.

"These were U.S. citizens waging a war against the U.S. government, which is treason. They weren't defending anything. They were rebelling and tearing down, and if they had succeeded in their war the United States would have been left a shattered and weaker place," he said.

NBC 5 reached out to the Dallas chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy for comment, but did not get a response.

Multiple Dallas City Council members said Friday that they welcome the debate over whether to remove the monuments.

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