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What The Mayor's Task Force Says Dallas Should Do With Its Confederate Symbols

Christopher Connelly
A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at Lee Park (now Oak Lawn Park) was removed last month.

It’s up to the Dallas City Council to decide the fate of the city’s Confederate symbols.

The council is expected to vote early next year; the city's Cultural Affairs Commission endorsed a series of recommendations this week made by a task force appointed by Mayor Mike Rawlings. Here's what those actions would do.

The task force, chaired by consultant and United Methodist pastor Frances Cudjoe-Waters, presented its recommendations to the Public Art Committee and the Cultural Affairs Commission this week. Both unanimously agreed.

“The monuments have become proxy for so many other feelings and emotions on both sides," Cudjoe-Waters said. "We wanted them placed someplace where there could be some kind of context and educational discussion.”   

Rawlings announced he wanted to form the task force in the days after the violent clash in August between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Here's how the Mayor's Task Force on Confederate Monuments advises the city to tackle the controversial issue.

Robert E. Lee statue in Oak Lawn Park

Credit Christopher Connelly / KERA News
A state of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Oak Lawn Park (formerly Lee Park) before it was removed on Sept. 15.

Recommendation: Put the statue and its base on long-term loan or donate it to a museum, educational institution or educational site in North Texas. Last month, it was removed from a park in Oak Lawn.

Recommendation: Change the name of Lee Park. It was reverted to Oak Lawn Park on Sept. 22.  

Confederate War Memorial in Pioneer Park

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
The Confederate War Memorial in Pioneer Park Cemetery in downtown Dallas.

Recommendation: Remove the Confederate monument in Pioneer Park Cemetery and put it on long-term loan or donate it to a museum, educational institution or educational site in North Texas.

Recommendation: Change the cemetery's name; the Dallas Park Board would make a decision on a new name.

Confederate references in Fair Park

Credit Wikimedia Commons
A gold medallion inside Fair Park's Hall of State represents the six flags that have flown over Texas, including the Confederacy.

Recommendation: Leave architecture and historic art featuring Confederate references in place, but add appropriate signs, digital tour guides and/or educational programming to provide full historical context of "the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Lost Cause mythology, the Jim Crow Era and the creation of Fair Park for the 1936 Texas Centennial."

Context should also include the contribution, participation and exclusion of Mexicans, Tejanos and indigenous peoples in Texas history. The Dallas Park and Recreation Department and Landmark Commission should work with Dallas Historical Society on this.

Recommendation: The parks department, commission and historical society should also work with the African American Museum and the Public Art Committee to add “substantive commemoration” of the Hall of Negro Life in Fair Park and recognition of the Jim Crow Era and South Dallas Bombings.

Recommendation: The city should try to return or recreate murals that once occupied the Hall of Negro Life.

Park names

For Dallas park names nearing expiration, the task force recommends consideration of “historical abolitionists, formerly enslaved, civil and human rights leaders, people from marginalized and underrepresented communities, and victims of police brutality.”

Street names

The task force suggests renaming these Dallas streets: Gano, Lee and Cabell. Each was named for a person involved in the Confederacy.

"We found through the research 21 [street names] in the city of Dallas that had links to the Confederacy," Cudjoe-Waters said. "We decided that we would recommend that just three of those names, which we thought were the most egregious and the most recognizable in connection to the Confederacy, be changed. The cost for each street was actually less than $1,600 each." 

The task force also recommends changing Stonewall and Beauregard street names.

The group recommends the process be completed on a "priority basis" within 90 days. And the open comment part of the process should include “voices of people throughout the city whose ideas and testimony shall be given equal weight with those of adjacent property owners.”

Other recommendations

  • Paid local and regional artists, architects, preservationists and historians should lead this process.
  • City should erect a marker at Akard and Main streets memorializing lynching of Allen Brooks.
  • City should create a “racial equity policy after public acknowledgement and apology for the policies and practices of the City that have furthered institutional racism and segregation.”

You can read the task force’s report:

(Learn more about the task force on the city's dedicated site.)

Recommendations for Dallas' Confederate Monuments by KERANews on Scribd

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.