Anyone hoping today for a resolution—any resolution at all, removal or the addition of historical context—to the question of what to do with the Confederate war memorial in downtown Dallas will have to keep on wishing. After a familiar parade of citizen comments and council member discursions on American history and race, the City Council voted this morning, 9-6, to delay taking any action on the monument at Pioneer Park, near the convention center. The issue of the empty pedestal at Oak Lawn Park, one of the last reminders of the Confederate general removed from his perch and shipped off to storage almost seven months ago, will also have to wait.
This afternoon, the council will take up what to do with that statue of Robert E. Lee. While some had favored seeing it off to the willing and able Texas Civil War Museum in White Settlement, west of Fort Worth, Robert Wilonsky’s visit to the museum shows why that may not be such a hot idea. If council members want to see the statue placed in proper context, one that illustrates the horrors of slavery, the secessionist war fought to preserve it, and the long legacy of racism wrapped in the false mythology of the “Lost Cause,” then Lee may not belong at a place selling Confederate flag bumper stickers in its gift shop.
The Office of Cultural Affairs, correctly citing a lack of good options, nevertheless suggests loaning the statue to the museum. The council today will decide whether to instead auction it off to the highest bidder. Maybe Harlan Crow could buy it and stick it in his backyard next to the statues of Stalin and Mao.
We’ll be back with an update later.
The council vote breakdown this morning, for the record: Adam McGough, Casey Thomas, Dwaine Caraway, Jennifer Gates, Lee Kleinman, Mayor Mike Rawlings, Rickey Callahan, Sandy Greyson, and Tennell Atkins all voted to delay action on the Confederate war memorial. Adam Medrano, Kevin Felder, Omar Narvaez, Philip Kingston, and Scott Griggs were opposed.
Update: After a lunch break, the council voted, 10-5, not to sell the Robert E. Lee statue. For now, it will continue to sit at Hensley Field near Grand Prairie. Those in favor of not selling it: Adam McGough, Casey Thomas, Dwaine Caraway, Jennifer Gates, Lee Kleinman, Mark Clayton, Mayor Mike Rawlings, Rickey Callahan, Sandy Greyson, and Tennell Atkins. Against: Adam Medrano, Kevin Felder, Omar Narvaez, Philip Kingston, and Scott Griggs.