East Texas may see next Confederate monument battle

Campaign to remove monument in Marshall

(KSLA) — Confederate monuments have been coming down throughout the country. And now there could be a push to remove one in East Texas.

Some local leaders say this is the first time they’re hearing a request to have it removed.

The Confederate monument is the subject of a petition signed by more than 1,000 people in Marshall, Texas.

It asks for the statue to be removed from the grounds of the historic Harrison County Courthouse.

“We’re not asking them to destroy the statue. We’re just asking them to move it,” explained community activist Demetria McFarland explained.

She is perhaps best known for her efforts with Marshall Against Violence.

McFarland also is the force behind the petition to move the monument off the east end of the courthouse yard.

And, depending on who you ask, it’s a structure that evokes far different feelings.

“That’s a reminder of the torture and hell that my ancestors went through,” McFarland said.

She delivered her message about the statue’s future to Harrison County commissioners Wednesday morning.

And Harrison County Judge Chad Sims said none of this likely will happen fast. ”This court would probably take a look at having public approval to do that, not just our five votes to do it.”

But also said it would likely take a groundswell of public support to ever get it to the ballot box.

McFarland said if or when that happens, there are many places where this statue could be moved.

"In a historic cemetery. Put it in a museum. Put it in Memorial City Hall. Those that want to embrace it, put it in your backyard; just out of sight, out of mind."

Lifelong Marshall resident and monument supporter Dal Smith wanted to make one thing perfectly clear about the Confederate structure. “Better stay. Ain’t no need to take it down. It don’t have nothing to do with nothing.”

Smith described losing his patience with what he sees as political correctness consistently chipping away at Southern culture and history.

“I’m sick of hearing all this (bleep) from all over the country. And I’m certainly sick of it. And here in Marshall, Texas, it ain’t going to happen.”

McFarland said there’s one thing she knows for sure about the controversial statue. “It doesn’t stand for the values and beliefs of black Americans. And it’s just a constant reminder to me of racial division.”

Her petition to have the statue removed is online at change.org. Also there is a petition to keep the statue right where it is.

“It’s not going to change anything,” Candy Johnson said after lunch near the historic courthouse. “And it’s just gonna be like everybody started out saying, start out now doing that and next thing you know they’re going to take down any statue of Jesus or knock all the stained glass windows out or what have you.”

Dal Smith agrees with many others in Marshall, especially since expectations are being set so high. “You can’t change history. None of us standing right here had a thing to do with what happened way back then.”

Smith and others bristle at the idea of moving the statue to a museum, cemetery or another location where it won’t evoke controversy.

Smith also told people not to expect the statue to be removed at any time.

“No. You’re in East Texas now, brother. It needs to stay right where it is. And I believe that’s where it’s gonna stay.”

Since McFarland’s proposal was not on commissioners’ agenda Wednesday, the officials could only listen. And there are no plans yet for them to hear anything more about it.

Harrison County Judge Chad Sims said this is just the beginning of the process that may or may not move forward from here.

“Oh, it’s very early. Sure, very early. This is, it’s brand-new to us. We’ve not been through anything like this. We’re learning how to proceed through it right now.”

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