A published account of brutal and racist chapters in the history of an elite Texas investigative agency prompted Dallas officials to remove on Thursday a statue from Love Field’s passenger terminal that honored the agency.
The 12-foot-tall bronze statue of a Texas Ranger, called “One Riot, One Ranger,” has been a focal point in the terminal since 1963.
A new book on the Rangers, “Cult of Glory,” offered chilling details about dark chapters of the Rangers’ history. The book by former Pulitzer Prize finalist Doug J. Swanson, a longtime reporter for The Dallas Morning News who is now on the University of Pittsburgh faculty, says the statue depicts Capt. Jay Banks. The captain was in charge of a Ranger contingent dispatched in 1957 by then-Gov. Allan Shivers to keep black students from enrolling in Mansfield’s high school High School and a Texarkana community college despite court rulings that should have prevented Shivers from doing so.
Swanson tells his former newspaper that “Banks became sort of the face for that because there’s a famous picture of him leaning against a tree in front of Mansfield High School while a black figure hangs in effigy above the school, with Banks making no effort to take it down.
“And Banks sided with the mobs who were there to keep the black kids out. So, he was the face of that and of a statue that welcomes people to Dallas,” he said.
Swanson also noted the title “One Riot, One Ranger” came from a Ranger’s report of a scene at the Grayson County Courthouse in Sherman in 1930, when a black man stood trial for assaulting a white woman. The mob eventually set fire to the courthouse and roasted the black man alive after he sought refuge in a courthouse safe.
Arriving amid acute racial tension sparked by the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, the book prompted officials to remove the statue from the airport terminal. Airport spokesman Chris Perry said the statue will be placed in storage for now with its fate to be decided eventually by the city’s Office of Arts and Culture.
This is the third time in four years that Dallas has removed from a public space a statue that had become racially provocative.
The city removed in September 2017 an 81-year-old heroic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and renamed the park that has borne his name. It was among several Lee monuments around the country removed from public view amid the fallout over racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. A Dallas-based law firm bought the statue from the city for $1.4 million.
In February 2019, the City Council voted to remove the 121-year-old Confederate War Memorial from the city’s downtown Pioneer Cemetery.
Meantime, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that a towering statue of Lee will be removed from the middle of Monument Avenue, pledging the state will no longer “preach a false version of history.”