Move Over Dallas City Council — High Schooler Mary Has This Civil War Thing Figured Out

Photo of confederate and Texas flags. By Danny Fulgencio

Dallas definitely knows what to do with these Confederate monuments, right?

“Tear ’em down. Tear ’em down.”

You know, like the crowd and several city counselors shouted at a rally one late-summer evening this year.

Isn’t that what they said they would do? It is; I was at the rally against white supremacy and to promote peace, and I heard it with my own ears. The mayor and several city counselors vowed to nullify two most-obvious Confederate monuments in Dallas.

So sure?

Some councilpersons, Adam McGough for example, voted to neutralize the monuments, but backpedaled a hair when confronted by a roomful of District 10’s ostensibly most out-of-touch and obtuse, yet perilously outspoken and autocratic, residents.

Organized after a white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, during which one young woman died —McGough invited Jennifer Scripps, Director of Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs to help explain the reason for the removal requests. She launched into a brief history of the statue, perhaps thinking folks might listen, maybe gain a better understanding of the monument. (Yeah, not much).

She told the packed room that the Robert E. Lee statue, dedicated at the Texas Centennial on June 12, 1936, was not erected as a war memorial — nope. Lee on horseback (no arguing a gorgeous sculpture) was erected as a tribute to the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy” during Dallas’ Jim Crow era — a time when Ku Klux Klan membership was boomin’.

Almost immediately Scripps was  interrupted by an audience member who stood and  proclaimed he “wasn’t here for a history lesson!”

A woman followed suit: “What will it take for the black community to begin to heal? Are we going to have to remove everything?”

So, here we all are at the anti-promote-peace-rallyLake Highlands Advocate’s article here has more

If you can stand it.

McGough promised to take opinions into consideration before a vote next time.

East Dallas rep, Philip Kingston, D14, stuck to his guns and explained his feelings on Facebook.Same thing went for Mark Clayton—take ’em down.

What will everyone else on the council do? Your guess is as good as …

Tear it down is just what the city planned to do with The Confederate War Memorial near Dallas City Hall, so it has been declared. Council members decided to remove the Lee statue and and sell it off to the highest bidder.

Lee Park statue.

Most of this was decided following that rally in Downtown Dallas, where some 3,000 gathered to express a desire to remove to visible reminders of hatred and inequality among races.

The teen has  plan

And aside from the rallies and tweets and Facebook feuds, intelligent, thought-provoking communication took place at City Hall when it come to the Confederate memorials:

The 18-year-old addressed Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and the rest of the Dallas City Council, reports the Advocate, and this young woman is going to be a decision maker someday, so, maybe, listen up.

“I’m Mary Orsak from District 13,” she says. “I have left school today to come to City Hall in order to speak to you about the removal of Confederate monuments.”

See and hear Mary’s council address here.

 

Yet, despite it all …

Some political minds might have changed between the rad love-one-another-even-if-they-are-brown fest last summer and now, according to City Hall reporter Tristan Hallman at the Dallas Morning News.

Photo of Mary Orsak at Hockaday, wherethe young activist attends high  school. Danny Fulgencio.

He writes, “The Dallas City Council’s agenda for Wednesday suggests the aforementioned option …But Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway said the item ‘still needs dissecting and reviewing’ and is ‘probably going to change between now and the time we vote … Caraway and two other black council members — Casey Thomas and Tennell Atkins — have spent hours discussing how to proceed on the divisive issue that enveloped the council late last summer. And it’s not clear what the rest of their council colleagues will support, especially after the mishmash of opinions they expressed last month.”

If the City votes to remove the monuments—this conversation still is not over. The council must next obtain a certificate of demolition from the Landmark Commission before exhuming the monuments.

In that same agenda item Wednesday (No. 34, p. 11) are a few more provisos beyond sculpture removals, although said provisions seem benign enough: the commemoration of the Hall of Negro Life; a new “proper memorial” of the 1910 mob lynching of Allen Brooks at the corner of Akard and Main streets downtown; and the creation of a working group to determine how to best add historical context to symbols of the Confederacy at Fair Park.

For the record, Robert E. Lee Elementary in East Dallas promptly got on with changing its name.

And don’t miss the New York Times piece about how each political side views the issue.

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