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Dallas Has Three Options For The Confederate Monument At Pioneer Park Cemetery

Christopher Connelly
A line of state troopers and barricades surrounds Confederate War Memorial in Dallas ahead of a protest on August 19, 2017

The Dallas City Council was briefed Wednesday on the city's options for one of its most prominent Confederate monuments. 

There are three paths for the Confederate War Memorial that stands in Pioneer Park Cemetery near the Dallas Convention Center: keep it, remove it or do nothing.

A majority of councilmembers voiced their support for the removal during the public briefing. 

"There's no question in my mind where I am with this," said District 7 councilman Kevin Felder. "We must take down the statues. We must take them down. We don't need to re-envision anything."

If they vote to keep it, the monument would be "re-envisioned" by multimedia artist Lauren Woods. The visiting lecturer at SMU was selected by the Office of Cultural Affairs for her work re-contextualizing Jim Crow-era imagery. 

In 2013, Woods unveiled A Drinking Fountain Projectwhich turned a "Whites Only" sign uncovered at the Dallas County Records Building into a memorial to the civil rights movement of the '60s.

"How do you think Black people and the people of color who watched these monuments being erected in Dallas — knowing what purpose they served — felt?" Woods said during the briefing. "Their struggle, their resilience, their triumph, their story needs to live in the public memory."

Removing the monument would entail  disassembling it into smaller pieces and storing it. That's estimated to cost around $480,000, according to assistant city manager Joey Zapata. 

District 5 councilmember Rickey Callahan voiced his opposition to the monument's removal, saying the cost was prohibitive. 

"We can't even do the things we're supposed to do, but yet, this is a priority," he said. "To take statues down that can't even speak? To me, it's a misplaced priority."

Doing nothing would prolong a debate that began in 2017, when Dallas city officials began considering the removal of public Confederate monuments in the city after the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee in Oak Lawn Park came down soon after that, but the city council voted to delay action regarding the monument in Pioneer Park Cemetery. 

A final decision is expected later this year. 

Miguel Perez is an assistant producer at KERA. He produces local content for Morning Edition and KERA News. He also produces The Friday Conversation, a weekly interview series with North Texas newsmakers.