Dallas task force recommends Confederate monument removal, street name changes

The Dallas Confederate Task Force Committee recommended that another monument should be removed and some street names should be changed.

Friday's vote in favor of taking out the Confederate monument at Pioneer Park in Downtown Dallas next to the convention center passed easily, 11-4 with one abstention.

The monument has a Confederate soldier atop a six-story-tall tower and surrounded by four Confederate leaders. The monument in the little-noticed cemetery was built in 1896 and is valued at a $500,000. Moving it will cost an estimated $800,000.

“Have we ever thought about we can't afford not to? Those who are not African American, put yourself in our shoes,” said task force member Dr. Ervin Seamster. “It is very painful.”

After a heated discussion, the task force settled on five street names associated with Confederate figures to recommend changing.

“Get something worthwhile doing rather than changing the name of the streets,” said task force member Barvo Walker. “It costs a lot of money for the city and for the citizens. Get a life.”

“If it were Hitler's name, I think there would be no amount of money that would be too much to change that name,” said task force member Sara Mokuria. “And for some folks, these names have that same significance.”

The task force opted to endorse changing the name of five streets in Dallas linked to the Confederacy, but no ties to Dallas: Lee, Cabell, Stonewall, Beauregard and Gano. None of the streets are major thoroughfares.

The city estimates the cost for renaming Lee Parkway, Stonewall Street and Beauregard Drive is about $6,000. Cost estimates for the other two haven't been released.

“If we go about renaming every street in this city, I would submit we should fix the potholes in those streets first,” said task force member Bryce Weigand.

There is a total of 17 streets in the city with Confederate ties, including notable ones like Lemmon and Gaston. The task force did not recommend changing those major streets.

Confederate symbols at Fair Park should stay, the task force said, but with added context and information for people to read. There’s a Confederate battle flag in a mural and a Confederate medallion that’s part of a giant gold panel in the Hall of State.

They also voted to recommend starting a citywide process to rename more than 200 city parks after public figures like civil rights leaders and abolitionists.

But none of the recommendations are set in stone.

“There's a process. And so it'll be up to the city leaders to decide how these things will go,” said task force member Marilynn Mayse. “They just asked for recommendations. And in Dallas, sometimes that's all it is is a recommendation.”

Friday was the final meeting of the task force. All of their decisions are only recommendations that will first go to the Cultural Affairs Committee and then the city council, who will ultimately decide what actually happens.