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Dallas City Council Continues Confederate Debate; Vote Could Happen Next Month

Bill Zeeble
The Confederate War Memorial in Pioneer Park Cemetery in downtown Dallas.

The Dallas City Council Wednesday continued its debate over what to do with the city's Confederate monuments.

No vote was taken in the briefing, but City Council will eventually have to sign off on some kind of plan to address them. Still, council members agreed the city needs to acknowledge its racial past and give a full picture of the city's history.

After last summer’s deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, the city of Dallas removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Oak Lawn Park (renamed from Lee Park). On Wednesday, the Council did not take a vote on whether to move the statue from storage to a museum in White Settlement.

Also in the council briefing, there was disagreement over what to do with the Confederate War Memorial in Pioneer Park Cemetery downtown. A task force has recommended moving the memorial to a museum. City staff instead propose keeping it in place — and adding signs for context.  

Council member Omar Narvaez pointed out the memorial wasn't originally located in Pioneer Park Cemetery and could be moved again. He also said African-Americans and Latinos haven't had the opportunity to write their history, so they've had to seek it elsewhere. 

"I'm a gay Latino male and I have to go research my history. And that history that my grandmother used to tell me of Dallas was that she remembered when she would go into places and signs would say, 'No Mexicans or dogs allowed.'"

The task force recommends renaming Lee Parkway; city staff agree. But a number of residents spoke out in opposition at Wednesday's council briefing. They had the support of council member Ricky Callahan.

"Majority of the people that live on that street — and this is a democracy — they don't want it changed,” he said. “It doesn't say Robert Edward Lee, it doesn’t say General Lee, it doesn't say anything about the Confederacy. Just leave that street alone."

Mayor Mike Rawlings said he'll bring recommendations to a vote as early as next month.

About the recommendations

After the violence in Charlottesville, a task force appointed by the mayor made 13 recommendations on what to do with the city’s Confederate monuments.

“We felt that destruction was not the answer, but we were hoping for a greater conversation in Dallas,” Frances Cudjoe Waters, chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Confederate Monuments, said. “We wanted them to be placed someplace for some kind of context and educational discussion."

Among those recommendations are putting the Lee statue in front of the Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth, changing some city streets named for Confederate leaders and adding contextual signs for artwork in Fair Park. 

Read all of the recommendations.