Houston is removing its two confederate monuments and giving one to an African American Museum in town.
Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Thursday that the city plans to relocate the Dowling and Spirit of the Confederacy statues. Both are currently located in two city parks.
In commemoration of the Juneteenth holiday, which memorializes the day slaves in Texas learned the Emancipation Proclamation granted their freedom, the statues will be removed by Friday, June 19, a press release from the city states.
The Houston Endowment has provided a grant for the removal and transfer of Spirit of the Confederacy, which is in Sam Houston Park and will be displayed at the Houston Museum of African American Culture in the Museum District.
“This is a huge step forward in the museum’s history of hosting difficult conversations, underscoring our multicultural conversation on race geared toward a common future,” John Guess, HMAAC CEO Emeritus said. “We have an opportunity to learn from our history, the good and the bad, to truly forge one nation.”
On Friday morning in an email to Reform Austin, John Guess shared a statement on the Spirit of the Confederacy monument.
“There is no question that HMAAC taking this monument comes with controversy and multiple voices; about the monument, about racism in general, about police brutality, about diversity and inclusion, about inequality and more. But for the past ten years this museum has been courageously having the difficult multicultural conversations about race with the goal of a common future,” he wrote.
“Don’t think racism will go away because of this moment, and destroying physical evidence of it won’t make it go away. The challenge is how we place that evidence in a context. This museum has and will be up to that challenge, Guess added.”
The statue of Richard W. “Dick” Dowling, displayed in Hermann Park, is to be moved to the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site in Port Arthur, Texas.
The city of Houston’s General Services Department will start work on relocating the statues next week.
“I’m grateful for the City of Houston Confederate Items Task Force’s guidance and the generosity of the Houston Endowment for their crucial roles in the plan,” Turner said. “And I’m proud of how this plan formed with input from many sectors of the city and deep consideration of all sensitive factors involved.”
The reinstatements are intended to provide contexts for the statues and to prevent vandalism.