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The lingering darkness of America’s Confederate past

NORMAN J. DOTSON JR. | 8/24/2015, 7:14 a.m. | Updated on 8/25/2015, 1:05 p.m.
In the wake of the tragic Charleston massacre in South Carolina, an incident that cost nine people their lives, the ...
Activist with the Dallas Peace Center stand by a statue of General Robert E. Lee during a protest at Lee Park, June 30. Tony Gutierrez

The Dallas Examiner

In the wake of the tragic Charleston massacre in South Carolina, an incident that cost nine people their lives, the country has had to come to grips with a multitude of issues ranging from mental health to gun control and the ever sensitive race relations in reference to historic markers of the United States of America’s darkest era to date, the Civil War. Even though they were defeated, the Confederacy lives on through its descendants and its flag that is still allowed to wave in many places throughout the South, which has been the cause of countless debates and protests.

The symbols of the Confederate Army are just as divisive today as they were a little over 150 years ago. Throughout the South monuments can be seen glorifying those who fought for the seven states that made up the Confederacy. Dozens of public institutions either house these monuments or are named after influential Confederate leaders, leading many, minorities in particular, to demand that they be removed at once.

The Dallas chapter of the NAACP has started a push to have these symbols removed from federal properties spearheaded by newly appointed chapter president, Arthur Fleming.

“What we are asking them [Dallas City Officials] to do is commission a team of artists, historians, community organizations to look for where all these symbols are and begin a conversation about where they all need to go,” Fleming said. “In that we also want to weave in the conversation on race to get that discussion started.”

Believing that the nation is in a time where change can occur, Fleming is hopeful that this initiative will strike up the much-needed dialog about race relations and what the true meaning of the Confederacy was for American history.

“I think everybody understands what those symbols stand for,” Fleming stated, saying that anyone who chooses to stand up for the Confederate symbols in this atmosphere will have a difficult time doing so.

A notable landmark in Dallas that houses Confederate monuments is Downtown’s Pioneer Park, which is the home to the Confederate War Memorial consisting of statues of historic figures such as Gen. Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Commissioned to be built by Frank Teich and dedicated to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1896, it was relocated from Old City Park to Pioneer Park in 1961 due to the construction on R.L. Thornton Freeway. This monument is one of the first that Flemings hopes gets looked into.

Along with the symbols, certain places hold Confederate traditions, such as South Garland High School – home of the Southern Colonels located on Colonel Drive – who up until the early 1990’s used the Confederate flag as their predominant image in their shield. The flag was also displayed on the school’s logo, which was replaced by crossed swords in front of the school’s initials. Still, the school’s fight song continued to be sung to the tune of Dixie. Many students also use the flag as a way to “celebrate” the school’s supposed “Southern Heritage” at many of the school’s functions while the district itself does not recognize the flag at all.