History Long Distorted in San Antonio by Confederate Statues and Symbols

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Courtesy / Ben Olivo / Folo Media

A crane lowers the Travis Park statue of a Confederate soldier onto a truck for removal early Friday morning.

The toppling of a Travis Park statue glorifying the Confederate soldier and the decision to rename Robert E. Lee High School, commander of the South’s military rebellion, at long last offer a fuller telling of this dark, violent chapter of American history and its enduring aftermath.

Last week’s events do not represent a fitting end to the persistent distortion of history as told in San Antonio’s public spaces and places. These acts of reconciliation represent only a beginning. More work remains to be done in San Antonio, across Texas, and the South.

I honor our elected officials – Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Councilmen Roberto Treviño (D1) and William “Cruz” Shaw (D2) – and their colleagues who voted with them on this contentious issue that for so many decades has been met with ignorance and denial. Those who preceded them in public office, even those elected leaders of color, never summoned the same fortitude.

More than 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died in the four-year bloody insurrection started by seven Southern secessionist states with the attack at Fort Sumter, S.C. in 1861. The casualties since then, of course, are incalculable. Since the war ended in 1865, Texas and the South have fought bitterly to deny equal rights to African-Americans, the generations descended from those kidnapped, brutalized, and brought here in chains as slaves.

To this day throughout the South in particular, but anywhere in the United States on any given day, black people are treated as second-class citizens in a country dedicated to the proposition that “all men (and women) are created equal.”

It’s a history that has been denied and repressed in Texas and other Southern states for 150 years. It’s been denied in our textbooks, denied since Reconstruction by the laws enacted by our elected officials, the behavior of police and sheriff’s deputies and judges and juries, and denied in a society that met defeat with defiance and “separate but equal” treatment of blacks. Separate, yes. Equal, no.

Members of TITFF (This is Texas Freedom Force) secure Brandon Burkhart in front of the Municipal Plaza Building.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Members of This is Texas Freedom Force (TITFF) guard Brandon Burkhart in front of the Municipal Plaza Building.

That defiance echoes down from the past into the present. It’s evident in a white nationalist’s mass shooting of black people worshiping in a church in Charleston, S.C., the state where Confederates launched their first attack against the nation. It’s evident in the words of a Georgia policeman who assured a white women at a traffic stop: “Don’t worry, we only shoot black people.”

It is evident in our justice system where it has proven all but impossible to hold accountable police officers for shooting and killing unarmed black men. It’s a standoff rooted in the the respective roles of oppressor and oppressed.

After the Civil War, blacks were denied the vote throughout the South. They were denied access to public schools, colleges, and universities. They couldn’t come and go through the same doors of our public buildings and businesses used by whites. They couldn’t eat at the same counters, or drink from the same water fountains as white Southerners.

A vocal minority of Southerners today still worship the culture of the Confederacy and carry its flag into their battles. They seem indifferent to the history they celebrate and the social order they yearn to perpetuate. That’s the old South, where black people were left to worship in their own churches, learn in their own small schools, live among themselves in substandard conditions, work for lower wages, and told they can’t vote. Even now, black mothers and fathers have to teach their children how to navigate life in a white man’s world that can turn on them in an instant.

None of this, of course, can be found on the pedestal of a statue or on the front doors of a high school named for a Confederate commander. Very little of it is taught anywhere in Texas or the South except at the university level to students of history. The masses still get the Texas whitewash.

History is not being erased. A false history is being challenged. Angry white supremacists can march on our parks and our plazas with their “open carry” rifles and their hatred, but the majority in this country is not going back. The racist movement is as doomed now as it was in 1865.

(From left) Paul Gescheidle and Activist Mike Lowe exchange heated words before entering citizens to be heard at Council Chambers regarding the removal of the Confederate monument in Travis Park.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

(From left) Paul Gescheidle and Mike Lowe exchange heated words before entering a citizens to be heard session at Council chambers regarding the removal of the Confederate monument in Travis Park.

Most Americans in this nation of immigrants want a multiracial society true to the values of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights. We want peace and prosperity. We want to show good will to our fellow man and woman. We support equal access to education and opportunity. We want it for everyone: blacks, whites, Mexican-Americans, and certainly the newest generation of hard-working immigrants.

There is a way, of course, to keep that Confederate statue standing and allow the service of the Southern soldier to be remembered. We can change the name of Travis Park to Civil War Park. Return the Confederate statue and erect a statue of a Union soldier alongside it. Add a statues of a white plantation owner whipping a slave to a bloody pulp.

Add a statue of Abraham Lincoln with a plaque noting the South’s loss of the Presidency in 1860, an office it had dominated since the country’s founding. Tell the story of how Lincoln won the presidency even with his name absent from the ballot in several Southern states. Note the unsuccessful fight to extend slavery to the Western territories. Display scenes from Reconstruction and how the “American Negro” was treated in daily life down South throughout much of the 20th century.

Let’s take our young children to Civil War Park so they can learn from an early age the real history of this country, not the censored version. A more honest telling of our history allows all of us to move beyond the past without forgetting it, to correct the mistakes of the present, and to build a better future.

No one is denigrating your Southern ancestors for wearing the Confederate uniform and serving. But do not ask us to worship them as heroes. No one is erasing history in San Antonio. History is finally being given its day.

33 thoughts on “History Long Distorted in San Antonio by Confederate Statues and Symbols

  1. I like the idea of putting the statue back, renaming the park, and even adding the gruesome scenes described by Robert. The only reason I didn’t support removal of the statue is because it is important to remember what can happen to a country when we allow ourselves to become so divided…what we are capable of doing to another if we aren’t careful. I think that statue served as a good reminder. Kind of like The Alamo, the San Fernando Cathedral, the Concepcion, San Juan, San Jose, and La Espada…just taking it down period seems very hypocritical for San Antonio. A city, a community, an entire way of life built on the hegemony of the native people by the Spanish about 150 yrs prior to the Civil War and before.
    From good ol’ Wikipedia:
    “The catastrophe of Spanish America’s rape at the hands of the Conquistadors remains one of the most potent and pungent examples in the entire history of human conquest of the wanton destruction of one culture by another in the name of religion.”
    Jordan, Michael (2006) In the Name of God: Violence and Destruction in the World’s Religions
    “Spanish missions also produced massive population decline, food shortages, increased demands for labor, and violence.” – ColinCalloway (1998) New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the remaking of early America.

    It’s interesting where this city has chosen to draw the line in history over what is okay to memorialize and what is not. How much money does this city draw in every year on the Spanish Missions? On Tourism? On the redeveloped new plan for the Alamo plaza, how much money is that going to make the city in the long run? All capitalizing off of something that was really quite horrible for the people who were here first.

    My opinion here might not be popular but I see this article as hugely hypocritical about violence and oppression in San Antonio when major examples of it are immortalized, capitalized upon, and heralded as icons of the city.

    • I was a big fan of the Rivard Report. This article is not balanced, and I totally agree with you on the dangers of creating divisions in our fine city. What Spain did to San Antonio, especially, is on my mind. San Antonio was NOT like other southern towns, and the Memorial was NOT like other statues that have been removed. Removing that Veteran’s Memorial was a bow to those who would divide us, and now I hope the Council is ready for los indios to feel ignored yet again. Most of history is a reminder of things NOT to do, and so was this memorial. I’m disappointed, Robert.

  2. I wonder if the Texas Freedom Force would be opposed to renaming schools or erecting statues to Santos Benavides a colonel of the Confederacy and a far more relevant hero figure in Texas for the Civil war. Better yet how about the Texas Freedom Force ask a statue be erected for this hero? I believe the answer would be no can do. Because as soon as the battles were over the erasing and white washing continued. That is why a museum would tell the whole story or statues showing the divide that existed in Texas for Tejanos and Mexicans who found themselves supporting and fighting for both sides.

    ” -Santos Benavides, who rose to command the Thirty-third Texas Cavalry as a colonel, and thus became the highest ranking Tejano to serve the Confederacy. Though it was ill equipped, frequently without food, and forced to march across vast expanses of South Texas and northern Mexico, the Thirty-third was never defeated in battle. Colonel Benavides, along with his two brothers, Refugio and Cristóbal, who both became captains in the regiment, compiled a brilliant record of border defense and were widely heralded as heroes throughout the Lone Star State.”

    “A number of Tejanos, acting as Union consorts, were actively engaged in the Nueces Strip. The most famous of the Union guerillas were Cecilio Balerio and his son Juan, who fought a bloody skirmish with Confederates at Los Patricios, fifty miles southwest of Banquete, on March 13, 1864.”

    If honoring history is so important for groups who believe history should not be lost, then the whole history must be told, not bigotted fantasy.

    https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/pom02

  3. Removing history, no matter how gruesome and WRONG it was will NEVER erase it’s! Instead let it be a reminder of where we have been so we move forward. Would you see Dauchau and Auchwitz razed to the ground? You are reduced to your deepest self when you walk those hallowed grounds, and KNOW this can never happen again.
    The removal of history is a political ploy to rise those who oppose to anger and call them names. Both sides are wrong. This a petty petty game! Shame on all of you who participated under cover of dark!

  4. Very well expressed reflections on the ways that we live history. We today do not honor racism and white supremacy, which does not change the past at all, but does change how we live now. We do not fall for the “redeemers” history of the Lost Cause, which was used to re-establish white supremacy and deny the promise of the 14th Amendment. Many monuments were erected long after the soldiers of the Confederacy fell and their families mourned. Some were erected in campaigns of intimidation against black people. Some place names were designated during the white resistance to school integration, including naming Robert E. Lee high school, after the Supreme Court’s Brown decision, when Texas Governor Shivers was leading the resistance but President Eisenhower was using the Guard to integrate. It matters now for us to teach the history of racism in our public schools. I take it that it was sarcastic to propose recreating Travis Park as Civil War Park with a statue of a slavemaster whipping a slave. It is fitting for today’s society to remove the statue to a history museum. But you seem perhaps inadvertently cautionary when you write that “the racist is doomed” as it was in 1865, since it was not doomed in 1865 but lived on with murderous consequences. The current racist movement, which has the President’s tacit support, must be resisted to prevent the neo-Confederate from raising their monuments again.

    • How does the President tacitly or otherwise support the current racist movement? As a black man, married to white middle class Mexican woman from Mexico City I see right here in the U.S. the recoil reaction from all you good citizens who claim to believe in racial camaraderie. My wife and daughter are often given quizzical looks by so-called “hispanics/latinos” who can’t figure out why a white “latina” would be so loving to a black young woman!

      Removing Confederate statues may give you all a sense of non-racist pride, but the sad racist-minded lives you live belies your upstanding rhetoric. The new racists in this society are ironically the hordes of illegal aliens that have invaded this land over the past ten to twenty years, plus the anchor babies that have been dropped on us . The vast majority of “DREAMERS” are leading this new wave of racists who have accents different to the accents heard from Confederates during that abominable war, but whose attitudes vary very little from those of Confederates!

  5. I’m truly disheartened by the overwhelmingly negative response that this decision has elicited from so many in our city. Mr. Rivard, not only is this piece incisively written and excruciatingly poignant in its careful and exacting estimation of the role this statue, and all other inclusions of the violent and cruel history of the Confederacy, has had in our modern day society, its also as clear an explanation I’ve seen in regards to why these totems of intimidation and racism need to be removed. For anyone fearing the slippery slope they claim is happening by removing the “history” these statues represent, look no further than Germany. Theirs is a history that was forever blighted by what happened in World War II, but as a nation they understood that their role in the Holocaust, whether it was active or just merely complicit, forces them to acknowledge the pain and suffering they caused for millions of people. As such, they understood that this history, as all history, needed to be remembered and recognized so as to never be repeated. That’s why Dachau and Auschwitz still stand today. However, they also knew that to memorialize figures of this era by erecting any sort of idol or statue in the public sphere would not only be a severely painful reminder to those were brutalized and persecuted by those figures, but would also be a small concession in the way of allowing what those figures represented to be memorialized as well. The ugly parts of our history will always have a place in our history, and should be remembered – in museums and in history books, and in the lessons we teach our children. However it should never be celebrated and lauded in the public sphere where many remnants of such a history still stubbornly persist.

  6. I have to admit that I was interested when I read the headline of this article and progressively disappointed as I read on.

    Our politics are probably on the same side of the spectrum, which unfortunately I feel the need to clarify so any critique of one of my favorite local news outlet’s namesake won’t just be labeled as being on the “side” of those who think we should keep the statues in place. When I saw “History Long Distorted by…Statues…” I got drawn in. My expectation was not the righteous political side-taking article that this was, and especially wasn’t the absurd “Civil War Park” mockery that best represents the absolutely missed opportunity that was this article. If you want to talk about distorted local history, then talk about actual local history instead of just being some other old guy with an outlet. This was irresponsible and disappointing. I’m not a historian and someone will find things wrong with my examples below, but I know enough to recognize the missed opportunity here.

    During the 1850s, many of our City’s most prominent family ancestors fled Europe, mostly present-day Germany, due to Civil War. Texas was still frontier, but also relatively stable and secure due to the local happenings of the previous two decades, making it an attractive place for this mass immigration to occur. These immigrants worked hard, started businesses and were eventually responsible for some of the most beautiful architecture in our great City.

    When the Civil War started, only 1 in 4 families were slave owners, though they controlled 60-70% of the wealth and therefore the State Legislature, who ultimately voted to secede. Slavery was not widespread or really even practical in Texas at the time, but a wealthy class decided this for the whole state, which had a lot of immigrants and abolitionists keeping that economy moving.

    Texas had its share of tragic melees among its people, but was largely spared the bloody battles of many other states during the Civil War. Not many people in Texas or San Antonio really supported secession since the Union had done well for them in the recent history of the time. Even the main Texas General of the time said he wouldn’t fire on fellow soldiers, so was removed by those in power at the state level. Toward the end of the Civil War, confederate soldiers in Texas began to mutiny and were no longer supportive of that cause.

    Those are some reasons why the statues and cannons don’t make any sense. That story includes an immigrant working class that was here to start a new life and a ruling wealthy class making preemptive decisions for the whole State in Austin. Does that ring a bell at all? That’s the history long distorted and this article was a very disappointing example of people today, particularly those with a voice, being very irresponsible with the power they wield to just make people on one side of an argument feel empowered by using exaggerated rhetoric against people on another side of that argument, both being highly irrational. You could have taken the opportunity to learn from actual local history and used this amazing local news outlet to present a neutral and factual account of the long distorted history.

  7. Travis Park was named to honor Alamo commander William Barret Travis. What does a Confederate statue, or ANY Civil War statue have to do with the Alamo? The Confederate statue should never have been there in the first place. So, put the cannon back (whose delicate feelings were THEY hurting?) put up a statue of Travis (or not) and get on with life. I never realized that ANY park had to have a theme in order to be a park.

  8. I can see you are just another liberal ready to push your morality down everybody else’s throat, thank you but I won’t reading your site anymore .

  9. Thank you RR — I am really proud of San Antonio city council. I watched the decision being made via the live filming. Hearing both the speakers who signed up and each council member give testimony showed me that San Antonio is not afraid to do the right thing. Up until recently I didn’t think twice about the statue in Travis Park. I’m used to seeing war monuments in all the cities I’ve lived in or visited but it wasn’t until I started hearing more about what some of these statues actually stand for I came to agree it should be moved. I didn’t realize how many statues went up around the country to continue to intimidate those who used to be chained up physically. Certain people in society were going to continue on chaining people up emotionally (and still physically through unfair justice and prison sentences).

    I don’t know why people are so scared to move beyond skin color and old ideas. And to understand that names and public art do have consequences when they remind some of society they aren’t worthy.

    I found this a well written, empowering piece to read. It took me awhile, too, to get it, but I’m glad I do now. Thank you to everyone who made this change happen because it took many people to speak up and a city to act. And your voices helped me understand why this needed to happen now and should have happened long ago.

    I just talked to my friend in Durham, NC where the people took down a confederate statue and it got ruined in the process. I was told that they actually have legislative law preventing local city government from making choices to do with confederate statues. The people felt they had no course of action but to take it down themselves. I’m glad San Antonio was able to make change without having to go to the route they did in Durham.

    • In this conversation I only want to point out that if you’re going to go down this path then we should also think back to how the Spanish saw and treated the indigenous natives of this region, summarized by this quote: “If you know the customs and nature of the two peoples [Spanish and American Indians], that with perfect right the Spaniards rule over these barbarians of the New World and the adjacent islands, who in wisdom, intelligence, virtue, and humanitas are as inferior to the Spaniards as infants to adults and women to men”- Juan Gines de Sepulveda

      Theres like what 5 Spanish missions or indigenous-to-Spanish citizen conversion factories however you want to call them plus the cathedral in downtown San Antonio, and no one in city government or who has a platform in the public sees the memorializing of that particular hegemony, conversion, extermination, and enslavement as wrong just like the confederate statue?

      On what scale is your logic to be applied here? The Alamo was built by native slaves overseen by the imperial Spanish. Natives were gifted as work forces (like objects) to Spanish individuals by the thousands, paid nothing, and forced to work.

      Why the selective outrage and selective action, it seems too hypocritical and politically motivated instead of because its the right thing to do. Especially when I see the mission buildings as a much more high impact symbols regionally speaking. I’m not afraid of moving past skin color or old ideas. I’m afraid of a government that memorializes and profits from the denigration of one people and calls out the other with the swift righteousness of archangel Micheal. How can you justify profiting to this day via tourism continually dishonoring those people who were forced to build them? The statue at Travis Park might not have brought the city any blood money in tourism, but those missions did and do. I can guess as to why they still stand despite what they represent to some. And we continue to add on to these symbols i.e. Re-imagining the Alamo which will cost how many millions?? That’s my problem with it. The removing of this statue I can get behind if I saw the anger being dealt out rationally in proportion to other symbols with emotional gravitas that this city carries and in many was identifies itself with. It’s like trendy outrage for social brownie points instead of doing the right thing because it’s really the right thing. Otherwise I wouldn’t have this whole thing to argue because the missions would have gone first.

      • Sure there’s always more to think about and more actions that need to be taken as we try to create a more humane and equal society. However I feel a lot of the responses are trying to say removing confederate statues are not an important issue and that there are other more pressing issues. It’s like when our community members who have personally experienced racism and unequal opportunity and have had the courage to tell the world that Black Lives Matter and the next person comes along and says All Lives Matter. Once again black lives in our current society are thought as not as important. It’s more obvious then ever and Robert Rivard points out many of these examples in writing this. I believe today’s society has gotten a wake up call to action and confederate statues are coming down in many cities. It’s but one thing is a long list. I encourage you to listen to the testimony by City Council, District 2, William “Cruz” Shaw in regards to the vote that happened this week that resulted in San Antonio’s Confederate statue that lived up on high pedestal coming down for good.

        • You might be hearing “all lives matter” that’s fine but not what I’m trying to argue. What I’m saying is that the Confederates were not the first in San Antonio being oppressive people here in this region whose legacy can still be felt in the lives of people today. That to take down the statue out of all of the things in San Antonio that could be deemed historically offensive seems totally hypocritical if you aren’t going to shut the missions down too or even first. The City of San Antonio doesn’t still profit off of Confederate battle outposts but they do from imperial Spanish missions. If you are going to start correcting oppressive symbols in this community maybe you start with the most blatant examples and the ones most culturally relevant to San Antonio…Texas was in the hands of the French, Spanish, Mexicans, and Texans before it was a state or part of the Confederacy, and so yes, I see the missions as higher on the list of things that would be deemed offensive since the natives were here before any of them and more offensive than a statue of Robert E Lee.

  10. I have read volumes about the Civil War… and I could write volumes here about the myths of the divisions… the simplistic view that North was against Slavery, while the South was for Slavery is ludicrous. Consider the New York City draft riots as evidence of this myth. Consider that “The Emancipation Proclamation” did NOT, in fact, free all slaves in the United States. It only applied to slaves living in states NOT under Union control, the “rebellious states” as they were called. “All persons held as slaves within any States, or designated part of the State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” It was a military move by Lincoln!!! William Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state, admitted the irony, “We show our symapthy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.” But Lincoln did not want to antagonize the slave states loyal to the Union by setting their slaves free. Truth is, human beings have cast other human beings into slavery throughout recorded history. Every statue that depicts a human being, particularly a “military hero” (who is usually honored for leadership, ingenuity, battlefield strategy, not political beliefs), anywhere in the world can draw a myriad of responses, emotions, passions dependent on who is standing before it… while one individual might adore the figure and its associated myths, others will find it all abhorrent… in essence the figure, the sculpture, the statue has many stories to tell. Discomfort with a street, city or building name makes my point. Living in that name is a story, a history. If you know that history and it makes your blood boil, I think that’s GOOD! We should NEVER forget. It should be in our faces! But truth is, today, you and I do not revere Robert E Lee as a hero. Most don’t even know who he is. And, I do have to consider how much this is all going to cost our communities when most are struggling to pay pensioners, repair infrastructure, build schools, maintain parks and greenbelts, rebuild after hurricanes or wildfires. When I consider all the streets, all the schools, all the public buildings that bear the names of history’s dark characters… I have to weigh the cost, not just the obvious… follow the process, beyond the replacement of a sign… I have to consider the inconvenience and expence for residents who must change drivers license, cc, bank docs, affiliate links, businesses that have PR materials with incorrect address info, including print ads in magazines, billboards, etc. City street maps must be changed. All the piles of tourist maps, walks, tours at the CVB are obsolete and must be recreated. $$$$$$$$ that we DO NOT HAVE. Changing the name of Lanier Jr High in Houston cost taxpayers $500,000! Changing street names can cost millions! If you research the Civil War era you will find leaders on both sides who were scumbags. Most were slave owning, Indian killing entitled white guys. Consider Ulysses S Grant. American Indians were subjected to some of the worst atrocities, massacres and injustices in history while Ulysses S. Grant was in office. In essence, the military “heroes” who commanded the Union Army in the Civil War were the top military commanders in the U.S. Army’s war of genocide against the Plains Indians. So, should we destroy Henry Merwin Shrady’s sculptures depicting Grant, because I am filled with anger and sorrow that a president of our country considered American Indians to be “savages”. There are many works of art that illustrate American history… the good, the bad, the horrific. Human history is filled with UGLINESS… in telling the story, unveiling the truth we can be set free! Art makes historical events visible, real and provides an opportunity to discuss what the art work tells us about the people depicted, their lives, customs. The dark days in America’s history cannot be denied. The statue in the park is not just art… it is an opportunity to remember the stories, the struggles, the bloodshed of our nations’ past. Austin, Texas was named after Stephen F Austin… Here’s a quote I’ll leave you with and you decide. Is it time to change the name of the capitol of Texas? I think not!
    “I sometimes shudder at the consequences and think that a large part of America will be Santo Domingonized in 100, or 200 years. The idea of seeing such a country as this overrun by a slave population almost makes me weep. It is in vain to tell a North American that the white population will be destroyed some fifty or eighty years hence by the negroes, and that his daughters will be violated and Butchered by them.
    – Stephen F Austin

    • I disagree with your point that we do not have the money. We The People can demand that our representatives, at whatever level (federal, state, county, city, district) make the necessary tradeoffs to accomplish what we want.

      Let’s make a San Antonio History Museum, where the Confederate Soldier can be placed alongside a Union Soldier, at the same height on wonderfully green and floweringly meandering grounds. In the building, we can place the dark underbellies and shining moments in detailed narratives.
      History expanded, clarified, not erased, and not in anyone’s face (in a public park…one has to make a conscious decision to visit this museum, and be prepared to see and hopefully be enlightened)
      Ideally, it can be free for all, and not have its narratives dictated by the tourism industry, but continuously and critically curated by an historically objective society.

  11. I’m old enough to have witnessed the apartheid and racism of white supremacist culture: black and brown people were forced to use back entrances to restaurants and separate dining sections; forced to balcony only segregated seating in movie theaters; forced to use separate swimming pools; forced to find separate housing in segregated parts of town; taught history that skipped the evils of slavery, lynching, the terrorizing of the black and brown communities, and legal discrimination. Open discrimination is now illegal, but racism still exists.
    I’m with you Robert Rivard, it’s time for good people, especially the white majority which includes me, to come together to confront the truth of our country’s history and take action to right the injustice. Removing symbols of white supremacy from the public square is a righteous and good thing.

  12. Funny, I never read or saw anywhere on either side of the political spectrum the subject of removing confederate statutes as part of a meaningful platform for our politicians during the last election. Yet it is one of the first items that the city council takes action to complete. This action should have been taken up by a vote of the people of San Antonio and not left to a conflicted bias process. Just as the removal of the the name Robert E. Lee from the high school, this major change for the NEISD should have been determined by a vote by the people of the district. If the voters from the city and school districts vote to take them down then so be it.

    • The Travis park statue and renaming RELee (and removal of other Confederate tributes in the public sphere) are all old items, and informed voters knew that voting for the winning candidates would help get it done sooner rather than later.

      • Your correct, Robert E. Lee high School voted on keeping the name in 2015, so why bring it up again, it was old news.

        Regarding “other Confederate tributes” I disagree that the voters believed that voting for the winning candidates would help get it done sooner. Please point to any publication where that conversation elevated a candidate from losing to winning. I sense a fear that if put to a vote, by the people another outcome would result.

        I am not arguing whether keeping the names and tributes are correct. My point is, this is very controversial and possibly expensive. Just the name change for the High School is estimated to be over $1,000,000. Who is going to pay for that? Of course the tax payer, let them vote. Otherwise let those that wanted the change set up a go fund me account and pay for it.

        • NEISD can pony up the dough; they, fortunately, are not as strapped for property and its value as Edgewood ISD (who decided to name one of their high schools after JFK, btw. Corrections cost, so try to get it right the first time….)

  13. I wrote a long comment and it got lost. So, I will be very brief. Robert write another report condemning all those who have been racist and enslaved others the Spanish the Texans and the confederates. Also call out many others guilty of horrible wrongs against others. Wipe the slate clean.

  14. Wow this is getting out of hand! Why can’t our city and nation just remove these statues and place them in a special museum so our young folks can go see them or anyone else. It’s funny I’ve passed that Travis Park and never paid any attention to that stair until all this fuss started. Also remember these confederate soldiers are considered VETERANS!

      • No they were American veterans to so please quit segregating us and dividing us. Maybe we shouldn’t name parks after anyone. Maybe if we actually looked into all these people or individuals we would find hate somewhere in there lives. Stupid huh. If you looked at every religious leader no matter what religion and as a people you will find that the majority of them had dark past and made a change. They also would be the first ones to tell you about that dark past and what they changed from. As an ethnic race of any color you will find the same. Most ethnic divisions actually stem from the same issue, money. Money in many forms. Money as land, currency, ownership of many things and the fear of losing it. That was the fear of Jews in the middle East, Spain, Germany, Russia, and America. All this attention to the racial divide from all RACIST ethnicities which includes every race. (Yes every race has and continues to show racism) is the root of poverty. Keeping us on the trail of divide because of our skin color is a cloak to hide the foundation of racism which can be contributed to financial divide. Everyone wants more. Let’s quit being lemmings. Removing the statue in Travis park is hipricritical, and yes you would have to remove every statue in America if we were being honest about the reason used. No one person is better than anyone else. At least there not supposed to be in this country. I’m a veteran whom it seems is one of the few who foolishly believes in the Constitution of America whole heartedly. Work on the people, all the people and lets see what happens. Racism knows no one color, it is shown by all sides. We sjould be educating our children about our mistakes but more importantly the direction we need to keep moving in. Its our responsibility to make sure we learn and grow in the right direction. Most parents do not bring there children to museums or learn the whole truth to teach them the information needed for change. As for the author, I was raised to speak honestly all the time and to leave out part of the truth no matter how small is just a lie. We should hold our reporter’s to the highest level of responsibility in the integrity of their articles. I think you could do better Robert.

  15. Bravo! Thank you, Robert, for steering us to an even better idea:
    a San Antonio History Museum (SAHM…maybe they could pipe in Texas Tornadoes-his Quintet-Los Super Seven music for our browsing enjoyment?)
    I have yet to actually go down to Travis Park to hang out, and the last thing (make it a “never-thing”!) I want to do in what looks like a lovely, relaxing green space is learn about mankind’s inhumanity. I just want to listen to birds, make music with a lovely bird, and hear other music from formal concerts to wandering musicians. Dear lord, I don’t need statues and displays triggering mental scenes from “12 Years a Slave” on a wonderfully sunny South Texas day!

    This dedicated San Antonio History Museum, with the Confederate Soldier statue and all your other suggestions could be a wing in the Institute of Texan Cultures, or a newly renovated standalone building and its grounds near or on a main thoroughfare. Then there can be halls for smiling pride to sober and dark reflecting, without anyone forced to look upon or be reminded of inhumanity.

  16. Excellent article. As you stated, “No one is denigrating your Southern ancestors for wearing the Confederate uniform and serving. But do not ask us to worship them as heroes.” History cannot be erased. However, it can be correctly stated. It will take more than taking down a statue to erase the sentiment that goes along with those memorials, but this is a start.

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