A small group of Dallas faith leaders gathered beneath the Confederate war memorial in Pioneer Park Friday, demanding the city proceed with its original recommendation to remove the public monument.
The gathering comes amid new city staff recommendations last week to maintain the 121-year-old monument and add historical context to it instead – a move that would save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars and a move that Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings supports.
The Rev. Gerald Britt, who is the vice president of external affairs at City Square, said he believes the Confederate monuments are a city embarrassment.
“It's interesting that we don't give tours to Amazon and to other companies when they come by to see whether or not Dallas is a fit place to live,” Britt said. “If we are officially ashamed of these monuments, why are we maintaining them? Why are we holding them up? Why are we protecting them?”
Following violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., in August, cities across the country grappled with what to do with their Confederate symbols, which some have called tributes to slavery, racism and white supremacy.
Mayor Rawlings convened a task force back in August, which recommended removing the Confederate war memorial downtown and renaming several streets. Weeks later, cranes took down the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on horseback from Oak Lawn Park (renamed from Lee Park).
The Rev. Michael Waters is pastor of Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dallas. He said Rawlings can't take the middle ground on this issue.
“There are some issues for which a compromise can't be made. It's just a moral decision between right and wrong,” Waters said. “And we know that this is a decision that takes moral courage, and we hope that the mayor and the city council find the moral courage to finish the work.”
The Dallas City Council is expected to take up a vote on the war memorial sometime in April.