Pierce Allman on New Committee to Slow Removal of Lee Statue, Police on High Alert as Council Debates

Will the statue be removed today? Yes!  No!

Update 12:02 am: The statue of Robert E. Lee will be moved and stored. More than 50 people signed up to speak at this morning’s City Council meeting concerning the removal of the statue, and several more (including Pierce Allman) were not able to make it to the mic. Per a motion filed by Mayor Pro Tem Carraway, the statue is to be removed and stored in a safe place (using city funds, then to seek private funding to reimburse the city for the removal and storage) while the task force seeks input, discussion and a final decision. Ricky Callahan made a motion for a citizen’s vote: thinks moving the statue might hurt the upcoming bond vote. Says 15 member council should not have power to remove statues, needs to be taken to the voters. Callahan also suggested re-naming Lee Park to Freedom Park. His motion only got 3 votes – 4 for the record, but Kevin Felder did not intend to push the button. Felder wants Lee Park to go back to the original name Oak Lawn Park. Jennifer Gates reminded us of the history framing the erection of the statue and the anti-black deed restrictions (still) found in many Dallas neighborhoods and was the only member who asked the City Manager for the cost of removal ($450,000). Her comments were touching as she relayed a story her father, Roger Staubach, had told about encountering racism while in the Navy. But Philip Kingston really hit the nail on the head: “These monuments represent a false telling of history… there is no erasing of history today.” Let the discussion begin.

The Dallas City council is holding a special vote this morning on the Robert E. Lee statue on Turtle Creek Blvd. There are speakers scheduled, including a lovely woman I met last evening at the statue at Robert E. Lee Park over on Turtle Creek. The meeting is said to be a formality, really, because the bulk of the Council has already decided to tear the statue down after a proclamation made weeks ago by Philip Kingston. You can read all about it here from Jim Schutze.

Sources tell me the voting will begin at 9:45 am as cranes move in at 9:46. Dallas police have been ordered not to tell anyone this, nor to publish any posts on FaceBook, stemming off any violence (which was why I decided not to post this last night.) DPD have blocked off the streets surrounding the building. Are the cranes far behind?

Meantime, the Dallas print media is looking like night and day on this issue.

Over at the Dallas Morning News,  Tristan Hallman says a new group that includes Pierce Allman of Allie Beth Allman & Associates, has formed and is saying, “whoah Nellie” to yanking down that statue. His story ran 12 hours ago.

The new group, Dallas Citizens for Unity and Reconciliation, hopes the City Council will hold off removal while a task force analyzes and discusses what do do about the statue and city’s other Confederate symbols. Presumably they are speaking at Council today.

“It looked like it was just moving too fast,” said Hank Tatum, one of the group’s leaders, referring to the removal fever.

Other members of the new group besides Tatum, who is a former Dallas Morning News editorial page editor, include former Dallas Morning News columnist William Murchison, Pierce Allman, husband of his company’s namesake and a well-deserving Father of the Year, real estate executive Kirby White, and Jane Manning, co-founder of the Lee Park and the Arlington Hall Conservancy.

The group, that Tatum says has approximately 100 people on board and includes a mysterious “city leader”, hired Mayes Media Group (a political consulting company) and another phone survey company to survey Dallas voters to ask their position on the statue. 

The poll reached 503 registered Dallas voters. It commenced last Thursday and ended Sunday, over the Labor Day weekend. The caller asked:

 “A group of Dallas leaders are proposing an alternative plan that would keep the General Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Park. Under their plan, the city would leave the Lee statue in the park with the addition of a plaque explaining the historical perspective of the statue. Private funds would then pay for a statue or series of statues in a nearby park that celebrate achievements of the African-American community.”

Please note: the alternative plan was mentioned first, according to Tristan’s story. Next the caller asked whether they would support the plan or removal of the statues. According to the story:
 
Support statute removal: 29%
Alternate Plan: 57%
 
Correction (5:00 pm): Brian Mayes tells me 35% of the 503 respondents were reached via cell phone. 503 people out of a city of  1.3 million. That’s a mighty small percentage.
 
Because most robo calls are answered by senior citizens (though, see correction, Brian Mayes says 35% were reached via cell) I am skeptical of the survey, unless we want to let our city be run by people who quite frankly (not to be mean but honest) won’t be here much longer. Sandy Greyson was the lone vote against the resolution because, she said, her constituents did not want the statue removed. Lee Kleinman voted for the resolution, but as his constituent, I wonder when he did the asking.
 
Polar opposite: to read Jim Schutze’s column in The Dallas Observer is almost a polar opposite of what Tristan (also a millennial) wrote. The Observer flavor is, this is happening and happening today, as my source told me:

Today Dallas comes to a wonderful and terrible crossroad. All indications are that the City Council will vote, probably 14-1, to pull down the city’s many Confederate monuments to white racial privilege. If we have only one council member still in favor of white racial privilege, that will be just about 100 percent for us.

This wasn’t easy. It was sort of a mess, in fact. It’s a shame the vote today won’t be unanimous. But when you get a peek at how it finally happened, you will understand why we had better take what we can get.

Then he gives background that mostly happened while we were on summer vacation: early August, Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston introduced a “resolution calling for an immediate moral condemnation of the Confederate monuments on city property and their eventual removal. Four other council members, including one African-American member, Casey Thomas, signed his resolution.”

Then Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings “countered with a proposal that did not include a moral statement condemning the monuments. Rawlings’ proposal would have created a commission to consider the question of removal. It prescribed a list of hoops his commission would have to jump through first before making a recommendation on removal.”

City council members appointed reps to the commission, 2,500 people gathered at City Hall Plaza in a mostly peaceful demonstration endorsing Kingston’s position that included an alliance of community activists, clergy and artists. TV was there spotlighting signs like “1860 called, they want their ignorance back.”

The movement moved forward to this morning. 

No matter what your opinion of the statue and whether it should stay or go — I’ve been back and forth and back again on this, more so on “go” after reading the hard-to-read transcription last evening behind Lee that is etched into the granite bench: “No calumy can ever darken his fame for history has lighted up his image with her everlasting lamp.”

Calumy means:

  1. a misrepresentation intended to harm another’s reputation denounced his opponent for his defamatory insinuations and calumny

  2. 2:  the act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to harm another’s reputation He was the target of calumny for his unpopular beliefs.

No matter what your opinion, what happens this morning at City Hall and then over on Turtle Creek Blvd. is a key indicator to the real estate future of Dallas. How so? Because of those robo calls and the people who want the statue to remain as is. It is clear to me that the Old Guard wants Lee to stay in place, not because they are mean-hearted or because they support racism. Hardly, they are among the kindest, most generous people in Dallas.

This is simply change. And if you have lived in Dallas all your life, you probably don’t like it. It is, after all, a beautiful statue.

But the newcomers coming to this city at a rate of 400 per day, the folks who are buying our houses and renting our apartments, don’t really care about what has been here forever. That’s one reason why, I think, Dallas is not as preservation-minded as many older east coast cities. I mean, we just tore down an historic hotel on Ross Avenue that was a mess but told the story of racial segregation in this city in the ’50’s and ’60’s. It’s a story half of us don’t know, because we were somewhere else or not even born.

Here is what one of the local activists, who has been working to get rid of the Lee statue for years, told Schutze:

“First,” he said, “I want to disclaim any moral superiority to people who are not on the front lines about this. Most whites have been totally misled in this part of the country about what the Civil War was about and what kind of a man Robert E. Lee may or may not have been, the whole thing.

“If we are suffering from delusions, they were probably brought about by a fairly dishonest rendering of the conflict in our schools and in civic life generally. It’s not saying nanna-nanna because we’re holier than you because we want the statues down. I’m not feeling that.

“For me, I went to [Dallas’] Thomas Jefferson High School. I graduated in 1970, and the athletic mascot of the school was a rebel soldier, a Confederate soldier. The school song was ‘Dixie,’ and the school football battle flag was the stars and bars.”

Well, we were the Indians in Illinois, not much better. And I grew up in a subdivision called Blackhawk Manor, where all streets were named after Indian tribes. No one meant to hurt anyone’s feelings; some creative copywriter just thought this was marketing genius. And hey, the homes sold. 

But once I understood the background story of how the Lee statue got here, there was no marketing magic. It was created as a way to rub the Confederacy in the faces of blacks and the Union, and glorify the losers.

That’s why I finally settled for removal. Or the addition of an historical statue right next to Lee that tells the whole story, the truth. 

Should the city pay for it? Heck no. The State Fair of Texas or the Dallas Citizen’s Council should step up and offer to foot the bill, maybe split it, along with any other group truly committed to moving Dallas forward: $450,000.

 

 

 

 
 
 

18 Comment

  • Why some people think that some failed Virginian general–who probably never stepped a foot in Texas and who led the army of a country Texas was part of for only 4 years in a war we were barely involved in–represents some kind of deep history that must be protects lest we forget our “heritage” is ridiculous.

    Replace it with a statue of Sam Houston if you want a general with actual historical meaning to Dallas (and worthy of being celebrated!). Lee is a joke, an embarrassment, and barely relevant to Dallas.

    • Jordan, Jordan, Jordan your historical ignorance is most telling
      “who probably never stepped a foot in Texas”
      “Robert E. Lee, spent several crucial years of his early career in the US Army serving in Texas.”
      http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/Lee_in_texas-.htm

      “Lee was with Albert Sidney Johnston’s Second Cavalry regiment in Texas from March 1856 to October 1857 and again from February 1860 to February 1861.”
      https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fle18

      • Peter, Peter, Peter, your arguments about Lee’s early career are about as meaningful as listing O.J. Simpson’s on-field achievements in order to justify erecting a statue of him outside the Buffalo Bills stadium.

        • Well…if we’re going to get rid of the of the statue..then let’s go after everything shall we?

          Rename “Malcom X Blvd.” He was felon, a thug, and a racist. He despised Martin Luther King and called any fellow blacks who supported him “Uncle Toms”. There no reason he should be be memorialized or revered.

          Next, let’s get rid of Caesar Chavez blvd also. He was a malcontent also.

          Next…heck..let’s nullify the Constitution. No reason to use it. After all…it was written by slave owners.

          Burn down the White House. Slave labor was used in it’s construction. In fact…most of the Founding Fathers were slave owners at one point. Let’s just ditch everything.

          Let’s hope you’re done being stupid and learned how to think things through.

  • I live on Lee Park. The park is a gem, the statue a blemish! Oak Lawn is a neighborhood about diversity, social justice, tolerance and understanding. Robert E. Lee represents none of those things. Move the statue to a place that celebrates war….not peace and love as this neighborhood does. I agree with City Council….it’s time for it to go!

  • Just curious on your position on the KKK. I would venture to say that there has never been a more hateful mean-spirited group in the history of the United States. Nonetheless, the numbers I have seen indicate that 1 out of 3 eligible men were in the Klan in Dallas in the 1920s. Should we rename the streets of the Dallas civic leaders that were in the Klan? I could name a dozen prominent streets, buildings, plazas, etc. that were named by people in the Klan. Here is just one example from Wiki-

    RL Thornton quickly became a prominent businessman, being named to high positions with other local business in various industries, including insurance, railroads, steel, the local utility company, and hotels. Starting in the early 1920s, Thornton was also a prominent member of the local Ku Klux Klan klavern

    • If people heard the name RL Thornton or Gaston and thought “oh, those KKK guys,” the yes. But they don’t. They’re random, meaningless names that don’t represent anything to anyone other than the most intense Dallas history buffs.

      On the other hand, everyone knows who Robert E Lee is, and he immediately represents and recalls the cause of the fight to keep slavery.

      The difference is obvious, and you’re being disingenious by implying that they’re at all similar.

      Also, he has next to nothing to do with Dallas. Why exactly do we need a statue of him?

      • So it is ok to have DFW streets, dorms at the colleges, plazas, etc. named after prominent KKK members because it does not draw an immediate reaction due to people’s ignorance? That might be one of the silliest arguments that I have ever heard. The KKK is certainly one of the darkest periods in our country’s history and ignorance is no excuse.

        • I agree with Jordan. If it ever becomes widely know that RL Thornton was a klan member and if people start to complain, or, god forbid, it gets national media attention, it will probably be changed.

  • William Henry Gaston (25 October 1840 – 24 January 1927) was a Dallas landowner and Confederate soldier originally from Prairie Bluff, Alabama (USA).[1] In 1868 he and Aaron C. Camp founded Gaston and Camp, the first banking house in the city of Dallas.[2] A middle school in the Dallas Independent School District bears Gaston’s name.

    Time to rename that street?

    • well once you start down the road to moving monuments your next step are street names and who knows what else.

      the City Council has started a fire and who knows how it will end. I pity the council districts represented by Caraway and his gang since they are being short-changed. They need to focus on fixing up their districts

  • the city council doesn’t want a city wide vote because they know that the vote will be to not remove the statues.
    As for repaying the city for the removal, sorry folks the city council wants the statues moved then they need to find the money to pay for it. How about coming out of the budgets that are for each council person?

    the discussion will not end this is the first step in tearing down more history. Stalin would be proud to see how this city council has operated.

    what will be up next for renewal? Arlington Hall? the Southern Memorial Turtle Creek Fountain? renaming Woodrow Wilson HS?

  • Please google ‘stars and bars’ and see how this phrase is TOTALLY misused. The offensive flag is the one designed after St Andrew’s cross. The ‘stars and bars’ is the first flag of the confederacy. Those who make such a fuss have no idea what they’re talking about and would not recognize (or be offended by) the ‘stars and bars.’ But then, we ARE rewriting history.

    • How are we rewriting history by replacing some Virginian with no connection to Dallas or Texas except being part of the same country for 4 years? An embarrassing failure of a country that should bring Texans no pride at that.

      Why would we not want to instead honor something/someone with a legit connection to Dallas or Texas at such a beautiful and prominent park?

      I don’t understand the obsession with Lee and the Confederacy for a Texan. Are you guys from Virginia or South Carolina or something?

  • When you realize that these monuments were constructed to remind people of white supremacy, one should be opposed to these monuments of racism. Lee was labeled a traitor by the United States, so why create statues of him? They were placed throughout the South to torment black people. Lee died in 1870, most of these statues were placed in the 1900s, this particular one in 1936. That’s 66 years after his death. He lost. Lee was a symbol of pride for white people who thought blacks belong in the back of the bus and disadvantaged. This isn’t about owning slaves, so many American heroes owned slaves. It’s about honor being given to those who have a place in history, but should not be elevated or celebrated to the extent of a statue or a street name. Turtle Creek is one of the most inclusive neighborhoods. Symbols of racism and white supremacy belong in a Museum, not a park.

  • I believe the statue should remain. This War happened.
    It is real and it is history. We need to look to the past in
    order to march into the future without making the same mistakes.

    Why can’t this statue and all like it be a reminder of what we never want to happen again? Leave the statue alone.
    Put a plaque on it saying “We must never let this happen again”.

  • If we’re going to insist on erasing the parts of history that we don’t like or are “offensive”…if you’re going to remove Civil War monuments…then lets forget about slavery while we’re at it.

    If the Civil War didn’t happen…then neither did slavery.

    No more bitching and moaning about it because it never happened.

    That should balance things out.