DALLAS – Confederate symbols, statues, and monuments across the City of Dallas have long been a controversial topic. The Mayor’s Task Force on Confederate Monuments has been moving swiftly, covering the contentious issue in a civil way, and making recommendations for Dallas City Council members to consider.
During the group’s meeting at City Hall, on Friday afternoon, its members made recommendations on issues including addressing confederate symbols at Fair Park, long-term storage of statues, and street name changes.
The Robert E. Lee statue has already been removed from a park in Turtle Creek in the Oaklawn area of Dallas. Residents on nearby Lee Parkway are learning the street could soon get a name change.
"We want to be sensitive to the issues, but I think the complications to it are a lot bigger," neighbor Valerie Richardson said.
Richardson is among those residents living on Lee Parkway who are closely watching the moves of the task force. The group voted to recommend name changes to five streets tied to Confederate figures. The streets include: Lee Parkway, Gano, Cabell, Beauregard and Stonewall.
“The staff gave us really good analysis on the costs. With the three that I recommended, the cost was about $6,800. If you add the other two, maybe another $2,000 or $3,000," Task force member Rene Martinez said.
It is the potential impact to businesses and residents on those targeted streets that has some neighbors concerned about how much changes could really cost.
“Residential addresses, all of their corporate addresses, any correspondence that they are tied to, credit cards, passports, drivers’ license. It’s a significant investment," Richardson explained.
Another big button issue the task force is tackling, is what the city should do with the large Confederate monument at Pioneer Park cemetery Downtown and the Lee statue, which now sits in storage.
“There are people that are out there right now, that would like to take this, put in a proper setting.” Task Force member Barvo Walker said.
It was by a majority vote, the group decided to recommend the city try putting those items on long-term loan to a museum or educational center.
“We are a new city,” Task Force member Norma Minnis said. “This love affair with a man who really didn’t want us to recognize him has really got to stop.”
Symbols of the Confederacy in and around Fair Park were also a hot topic for the Mayor’s task force. The group is recommending the city keep the artifacts in Fair Park. However, it is also strongly encouraging City Council to consider adding historical context from other cultures. Most Task Force members believe it will be best or the greater community.
Reverend Dr. Michael Waters told his colleagues on the Task Force, “It would tell the truthful history, in a way that provides opportunities for healing and for racial reconciliation.”
The Mayor’s Task Force on Confederate Monuments will formally present its recommendations to the City on October 4, 2017.
Some residents believe more discussion should take place before City Council sets anything in stone.