Confederate banner removed from Texas courthouse

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on April 4, 2011 at 8:39 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 5 at 11:55 AM

PALESTINE, Texas — In a dramatic turn of events Monday evening, the Confederate flag that was raised Friday over the Anderson County Courthouse in East Texas was taken down.

The symbol of pride to some... and oppression to others... had divided the community of Palestine, about a hundred miles southeast of Dallas.

The mayor of Palestine called an emergency meeting Monday night to ask the Anderson County to back down from flying the original version of the Confederate flag.

To everyone's surprise, that's what happened.

With an imposing stare, a bronze statue of high-ranking Confederate John H. Reagan looks out over his home town of Palestine.

What would he think of Palestine Mayor Bob Herrington and his emergency meeting?

"I don't pledge allegiance to the Confederate flag," the mayor said.

To honor 1,100 local men who served in the Civil War, the local Sons of Confederate Veterans raised an early version of the Confederate flag over the Anderson County Courthouse last Friday.

Black leaders like Kenneth Davidson of the NAACP were present for the ceremony, but turned their backs in protest.

"I hope they take it down," he said. But Davidson found no sympathy from county Commissioner Joey Hill.

"It's a decision I made and a decision I will stand with," said Hill, who is white.

But Mayor Herrington — who is also white — was not about to back down. In a community with a history of racial tension, he sought a resolution — asking the county to remove the Confederate banner.

"When you fly a flag on a government-owned piece of property that divides people, it destroys the concept of unity," Herrington said.

But just as the City Council was about to vote, the mayor got a message from the lone black county commissioner, Rashad Mims.

"The flag is down," the mayor announced to a round of applause from onlookers.

And so ends another chapter in the ongoing story of rich local history.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans were persuaded to take the flag down on their own, which let commissioners save face.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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