The Confederate Soldier Memorial Advisory Committee will recommend to the Denton County Commissioners Court next week that the Confederate monument be left where it is in the Denton Square.
The court established the committee several months ago to evaluate the future of the monument, standing on the south side of the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square. The committee recently held several public forums for residents to give their input on whether the monument should be moved and have historical context added, or it should stay put but have context added.
The 15-member committee recently took a vote and 10 voted to keep the statue where it is, while five voted to move it, said John Baines, chairman of the committee.
“We realized that we need to be more unified,” Baines said.
In its final meeting this week, the committee came to the near-unanimous decision of recommending keeping the statue where it is and adding much more historical context. Baines will present that recommendation at the Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday.
If the commissioners accept the recommendation, Baines said a plaque will be added below the statue with a statement that, in essence, decries slavery and racial superiority. The committee also wants to install an interactive kiosk near the monument that will: tell the story of all deceased veterans from Denton County from all wars and list all their names; an accurate story of race relations through all of American history, with “no candy coating” and with an emphasis on civil rights movements in Denton County; and third, the kiosk will “tell the story of who we are in Denton County and where we want to go.”
“If the statue has to remain, this story needs to be told, too,” Baines said. “A lot of work will have to be done to add the context to the statue.”
Pressure escalated to move or remove Confederate statues and memorials across the country in August, after the deadly confrontation between a group of white nationalists — who were protesting the movement of a statue of Robert E. Lee — and counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Va., according to the Associated Press.
Later in August, many people spoke at the Denton County Commissioners Court meeting, urging the commissioners to move the Confederate Soldier Memorial away from the courthouse. Generally, those who want monuments and statues moved, or removed, believe they honor or glorify a political movement that proposed the continuation of enslaving African-Americans.
It’s the only Confederate monument in Denton County. The Daughters of the Confederacy erected it in 1918.
A nearby plaque explains the monument to be: “a reminder of historic events and is intended as a memorial to Denton County citizens who sacrificed themselves for the community. Now, let this be a testimony that God created all men equal with certain inalienable rights. We are all one, citizens of Denton County.”
The text on the monument itself says it is: “in memory of our confederate soldiers, who in heroic self-sacrifice and devoted loyalty gave their manhood and their lives to the South in her hour of need.”