After a Friday afternoon session lasted more than three hours, the city of Dallas' Confederate Monuments Task Force is done. The task force, convened by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and made up of nominees named by each member of the City Council, recommended the city remove the Confederate War memorial that towers above Pioneer Park near the convention center and change the names of five Dallas streets that share names with Confederate generals.
The task force turned down the opportunity to recommend several other expensive, sweeping changes to Fair Park and the Dallas street grid.
Rawlings wanted deliberation on Dallas' monuments to the Confederacy, and he got three weeks of work and the vote for a series of recommendations Friday. There was discussion about allowing Dallas' remaining Confederate monument, the six-story Confederate War memorial that sits in Dallas' Pioneer Park and cemetery, to remain in the park with amended markers and plaques. However, the task force made it clear that, like the Robert E. Lee statue in an Oak Lawn park, the monument has to go.
Removing the memorial, valued at $500,000 by art appraisers, will cost about $800,000. Despite the price tag, the task force agreed that the city must be consistent in its repudiation of Confederate symbols.
"We will never be a world-class city, a city of the future, if we allow Confederate monuments that are racist propaganda to continue to sit on city property," said task force member Sara Mokuria, a co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality.
After voting to recommend removing the Confederate War Memorial, the task force quickly moved on to developing a recommendation for Dallas' streets that are named for figures with Confederate ties. Faced with recommending changes to as many as 15 street names, the committee chose to limit its name-change recommendations to five streets named or possibly named for men who served as generals in the Confederate Army — Lee Parkway, Cabell Drive, Gano Street, Stonewall Street and Beauregard Drive.
Lee Parkway, which abuts the park formerly known as Lee Park, is named for Robert E. Lee. Cabell Drive, located near Cityplace, is named for William L. Cabell, elected mayor of Dallas three times after his service in the Confederate Army. Richard Montgomery Gano, a brigadier general, was a Tarrant County state representative and minister, are Fair Park's Stonewall Street and Beauregard Drive in Preston Hollow share names with Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Pierre G.T. Beauregard, significant Confederate figures with no known ties to Dallas. City staff could not confirm the origins of the latter two streets names, but the committee agreed that their names should be changed because of the figures they evoke.
The five streets recommended for changes by the task force are not major thoroughfares and won't cost that much to change. The total estimated cost to the city for renaming Lee Parkway, Stonewall Street and Beauregard Drive is about $6,000. The city does not yet have estimates for the cost of renaming Gano Street in the Cedars or Cabell Drive in Knox-Henderson.
Lemmon and Gaston avenues, the longest streets discussed and most the expensive to change, survived the committee's discussion although they're named for a couple of Confederate captains. William Henry Gaston also may have been the model for the figure that sits atop the Confederate War memorial, according to the city.
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The task force also recommended that the city keep the Confederate-tied art and symbols at Fair Park, including two Texas history murals in the Hall of State, while adding appropriate historical markers and additional context to explain the state's history during the Civil War, Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era.
“It would tell the truthful history in a way that provides opportunities for healing and for racial reconciliation,” said the Rev. Michael Waters, a task force member and the senior pastor at Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Church.
At Waters' suggestion, the task force also voted to recommend adding a new public marker to downtown Dallas. The task force will ask the City Council to add a memorial to Allen Brooks, an African-American man lynched from a ceremonial arch at the corner of Akard and Main streets downtown in 1910.
The task force will brief the City Council on its recommendations Oct. 4. A council committee will discuss them before the full council takes on the recommendations sometime later this year. None of the recommendations from the task force is binding.