Dallas City Council defers action on Confederate monuments

DALLAS -- The debate over the symbolism and appropriateness of Confederate monuments on public land is a familiar one at this point, and the debate over the fate of Dallas' monuments will continue after the city council opted by a 9-6 vote on Wednesday to take more time to decide what to do with them.

Following a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Va. last year that resulted in the death of a counter-protester, the City of Dallas removed a statue of Robert E. Lee in September and changed the name of the park in which it resided from Lee Park to Oak Lawn Park, setting off a firestorm of heated rhetoric on both the pro-Confederacy and anti-Confederacy sides.  But, even after all these months, there was still no council consensus on what to do or how to do it.

"I'm not saying we don't want the Confederates to have their history, but you can't have all the history without telling all of the story," said District 4 representative and Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway.  "Put the story up of a man with a whip lashing out on somebody's back, an American.  Put a man that's lynching off a horse.  Put a lady that's being raped if you're going to tell the story of what really happened, and not just the one or two statues that we're talking about.

"You've got to give [us] an opportunity, council, for us to go and remake a decision and to continue to put the right things in place for all of the right reasons."

"Last night I had a special multicultural meeting in my district," said District 5 representative Rickey Callahan.  "Not one of them, not one of them asked for these statues to come down.  Quite the contrary.  Matter of fact they all said, 'Let's leave them up, let's tell the truth, let's contextualize history, and let's use that as a teaching moment for our grandchildren.'"

Those who voted for decisive action cited a desire to move on from the monument issue and get to others.

"Not to diminish anyone's opinion on either side," said Philip Kingston of District 14, "but they've been fully aired at this point, and I think we have other work to do."

The council did vote to pass the following items: directing the city manager to appoint a group to add historical context to Confederate symbols at Fair Park, commemorating the Hall of Negro Life at Fair Park, constructing a memorial of the 1910 lynching of African-American Allen Brooks, not renaming streets that are currently named after Confederate officials and not selling the Lee statue by auction.