City Hall

Dallas' Confederate War Memorial Might Not Be Coming Down After All

Dallas' Confederate war memorial should be removed, the city's Confederate Monuments Task Force said.
Dallas' Confederate war memorial should be removed, the city's Confederate Monuments Task Force said. Mark Arthur
As things stood in November, the last time the Dallas City Council took up Dallas' Confederate statue problem, it seemed the council was ready to accept the recommendations of the task force hastily assembled by the city last summer after a woman was killed during a fight over the fate of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The towering Confederate war memorial adjacent to Dallas City Hall and the convention center was coming down, and the base atop which the recently removed Robert E. Lee statue sat at Oak Lawn Park was going to be taken away. A handful of street names, Lee Parkway the most prominent among them, were also on the chopping block.

Now, thanks to new recommendations from Dallas city staff, the removal of the memorial, as well as all but one of the proposed street name changes, are in doubt.

According to material released by the city over the weekend and set to be briefed to the City Council on Wednesday, city staff members believe removing the towering Confederate monument that sits by City Hall is too expensive to recommend. Rather than spending the $430,000 the city believes it would cost to dismantle the statue and send several of its most prominent pieces to an art museum, staff "recommends keeping the Confederate Monument in its current site and adding full historical context" to the statue at a cost of $25,000.

When the Confederate Monuments Task Force, made up of one member from each of Dallas' 14 City Council districts and seven at-large appointees made by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, completed its recommendations, it was adamant that the war memorial should come down, as the Lee statue did in September after emergency action by the council.

"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 Sara Mokuria, task force member and co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality.

The task force also recommended that the city change the names of 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.

In a presentation to the council Wednesday, staff will recommend that only Lee Parkway have its name changed. Cabell and Gano, according to staff, should not have their legacies erased because they "were both early Dallas residents who made considerable and important civic contributions." Stonewall Street and Beauregard Drive should keep their monikers because there is no definitive proof they were named after Confederate figures, according to staff.

The advocates who pushed the city of Dallas to remove its Confederate monuments will, as they were at each of the task force meetings, be at city hall Wednesday as the council considers whether to take on the recommendations of city staff or the task force.

"We need the council to finish the job and take down this Confederate memorial at the Convention Center across the street from City Hall," longtime Dallas social justice activist John Fullenwider said in Sunday night Facebook post urging people to attend Wednesday's City Council meeting. "Lift your voice — and every voice to take down these statues. No honor in slavery, no honor in treason, no honor in hate."
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young