Leaders Call for Removal of Confederate Monument at Travis Park

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Joan Vinson / Rivard Report

Mario Salas, a member of the San Antonio Coalition for Civil and Human Rights, spoke during call to take down the Confederate memorial in Travis Park in July 2015.

City and county officials gathered with local civil rights activists at Travis Park on Saturday morning to call for the removal of the park’s Confederate monument. About ten people showed up for the press conference, none of which were in favor of keeping the statue.

The Confederate monument with a plaque that reads “Our Confederate Dead,” symbolizes the history of the South for some and a reminder of hundreds of years of racism for others.

To County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4), the flag represents hate. Calvert stood in front of the Confederate monument, with an American flag in hand, and told the crowd that San Antonians should praise symbols of unity, like the nation’s flag, instead of symbols of division, like Confederate monuments.

Commissioner Tommy Calvert led the protest on Saturday morning. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Commissioner Tommy Calvert led the protest on Saturday morning. Photo by Joan Vinson.

“We need to move in a direction of praising the American flag for the unity and enfranchisement of all people and praising our heroes who kept our union together,” he said.

Mario Salas, a member of the San Antonio Coalition for Civil and Human Rights, said the monument shouldn’t be in a public park, that it belongs in a museum because statue represents slavery. He said those people who believe the American Civil War was fought for state’s rights instead of slavery are “at odds with reality.”

“The statue is a despicable reminder of the hatred generated by the Confederate states,” Salas said.

Calvert said the Commissioner’s Court meeting on Tuesday morning will address Confederate monuments in San Antonio and move forward with their removal and museum placement. He said he wants a plaque placed underneath each monument that reads, “Never Again.”

“Never again do we want to go back to a situation where people are enslaved. Never again do we want to have the notion that only the white race our government is created for. Never again do we want to have it only for white men, for in fact women were excluded. Never again will go back to an era when Hispanics were discriminated against, and Native Americans,” Calvert said.

When it comes to education, Calvert said, teachers and professors should refer to primary sources instead of the state-issued textbooks that downplay the role of slavery in the Civil War and the history of Texas.

“I (encourage) teachers to teach from primary sources rather than a book created by political operatives who have their own hidden motives,” he said.

Both Salas and Calvert said the Sons of Confederate Veterans members are misinformed individuals whose beliefs lead to tragedies like the racially motivated killings of nine unarmed African-Americans in a South Carolina church.

“These Confederates are totally confused and I feel sorry for some of them because they have been brainwashed by this racist propaganda,” Salas said about the Sons of Confederate Veterans members.

Salas said the monument was erected after the death of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Manuel Medina said the Travis Park monument is a symbol of racism and hate. He said it is monuments like these that led to the South Carolina massacre.

“This symbol of racism and hate could lead to the same scenario in a Hispanic church on the Southside (or) in a Jewish synagogue,” Medina said.

Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Manuel Medina spoke out against the monument. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Manuel Medina spoke out against the monument. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Medina said the Confederate monument should be replaced by a statue that represents America’s progression.

“Lets erect monuments to glorify those that have fought for what America is today and America will be tomorrow,” he said.

Councilmember Alan Warrick II (D2) sent a letter to Mayor Ivy Taylor earlier this month requesting that a task force be formed to review the Confederate monuments and flags located in public places throughout the city. Mayor Taylor responded, noting that removing Confederate symbols will not solve the underlying cause of racism, that City staff has been directed to “identify any monuments connected with Confederate history or symbolism” and produce a report for her review and consideration of “opportunities for expanding interpretation at these sites.”

Councilmember Rey Saldaña attended the protest on Saturday. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Councilmember Rey Saldaña attended the protest on Saturday. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Councilmember Rey Saldaña (D4), who attended the protest on Saturday, said he backs Warrick’s stance on the issue.

“I think this has a purpose for reminding us of our history and that history should belong in places like our textbooks and our museums, not in our publicly funded parks,” Saldaña said.


*Featured/top image: Mario Salas, a member of the San Antonio Coalition for Civil and Human Rights, spoke during the protest. Photo by Joan Vinson.

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72 thoughts on “Leaders Call for Removal of Confederate Monument at Travis Park

  1. All Confederate officers and soldiers were given U. S. Veteran status. Y’all just stop it. We have so many important issues. I hope the San Antonio Conservation Society and others will speak out against this that solves absolutely nothing. This North:Good South:Bad is a polemic worn thin. Robert E. Lee was a founding member of St. Mark’s Episcopal. Shall we raze it Sherman style?

    • North good / South bad is not a polemic, it’s a fact that can’t be wished away or dressed up by grand monuments or by giving honor by naming buildings or parks after people.

      But what’s also true is that there were good and bad in individual actions at various times from both sides.

      • Sorry, Steve.

        Your attempted distinction between the “people” of paragraph one and the “individual actions” of paragraph two is, at best, contrived.

        It is also quite arbitrary, since you’ve already condemned those from the Confederacy as playing an integral role in the “bad” side’s activities.

        If the basic idea of “North good / South bad” is indeed a fact, as you claim, the least you could do is stick to your guns. At this juncture, your condescending attitude is nothing short of reprehensible.

        Garl B. Latham

        • I’m not condescending, It’s consistent and not arbitrary. Many people posting seem to conflate individual actions with somehow justifying the entire cause, and it doesn’t. The net actions of individuals from the North ended up being good overall compared to the individual actions of those from the South. If you think that’s deserving of condemnation, then you don’t understand the primary reason behind the Civil War, which was to perpetuate the economic system of slavery. If you think that’s a good thing, then you’re wrong.

          • Mr. Talbert,

            You said “there were good and bad in individual actions at various times from both sides” after going out of your way to repeatedly vilify one of those sides.

            Call that anything you wish (and I thought condescension sounded better than duplicity), but believe me: we don’t need you to toss us a bone.

            You not only insist upon claiming a greater understanding of reality, but the right to judge the hearts of others.

            Isn’t that enough?!

    • Good point, Christian.

      You know, I’ve always wondered about the legal matters revolving around the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Texas vs. White.

      The high court viewed the Union as a sort of “Hotel California”: the Southern states could check out any time they liked, but they could never leave.

      Still, the U.S. Reconstruction Acts expressly required certain actions to be accomplished by the individual states which had “been in rebellion” prior to their being “readmitted” into the Union.

      This begs the question:

      If the states which formed the Confederacy had never really left the Union in the first place, in what legal sense could they have ever been “readmitted” and, if this entire argument was specious, how could reconstruction have been considered constitutional?

      Another one of the myriad benefits of being on the winning side of a war, eh?!

      Garl B. Latham

    • Pres Johnson gave an unconditional pardon and amnesty in May 1865 to all the confederates (citizens and soldiers) who had renounced US citizenship as part of acts of succession. All those who served in the Confederate military lost their US citizenship, and were considered guilty of treason, and to get it back they had to submit an oath of amnesty to the State Depart.

  2. These are not monuments to slavery, they are not monuments to politics, these are monuments to individuals– our families who fought for their home state. Even Sam Houston and Gen. Lee disagreed with the politics of the time but in the end chose to stand with their home state. When Gen. Lee said it had been enough killing and surrendered, the “United” States agreed to accept the states back. In doing so they made a conscious decision to include this heritage as part of the whole. If the politicians want to do something that reflects cultural sensitivity and unity, then erect new monuments of change alongside those of the confederacy.

    • Great point! San Antonio has so few monuments dedicated to remembering the Civil War that it makes little sense to remove them. Add a monument to the 13th Amendment before you spend that money tearing down a monument honoring veterans.

  3. ““I think this has a purpose for reminding us of our history and that history should belong in places like our textbooks and our museums, not in our publicly funded parks,” Saldaña said.” What does that even mean? Shall we take historical George Brackenridge out of historical Brack Park and hide him in the Witte? Saldana apparently believes history only belongs in museums. Nobody explained that to UNESCO. #whew

  4. “To County Commissioner Tommy Calvert, the [Confederate] flag represents hate.”

    Interesting. To me, County Commissioner Tommy Calvert’s opinion “represents hate.”

    Oh, well.

  5. Haven’t heard one word from Saldana or Warrick about the police and fireman’s contract. What stance have you all taken if any? But look at them go about something that happened over 100 years ago. What brave souls or maybe just scared of the union. Take your pick.

  6. I think the statues and monuments give context to history and should have plaques with similar things that what Calvert said, and even some parts of comments above. It’s the honor of naming public buildings I take offense to. Plus it would be a lot less expensive and reach a much wider audience. Where exactly is that monument going to go? If all the confederate memorials are put together, it could come off looking like a shrine. That would be worse.

  7. “Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Manuel Medina said…monuments like these…led to the South Carolina massacre.”

    Ignoring for a moment the absurdity of that statement, I wonder:

    Will the vilification of our forebears automatically lead to something good? Should we renounce the memory of those who lived in a different time, under laws and customs unfamiliar to us? Must the facts of history be twisted to distortion by people whose definition of “unity” allows only one side of a story to be acknowledged?

    ‘Tis a sad thing, to be sure.

    Garl B. Latham

    • And ignorant people who don’t read that the Civil War was over slavery as the Texas Articles of Secession prove. TEAR DOWN THAT RACIST STATUE

      • Since you are so heel bent getting rid of Confederate figures in public places,
        demand that they remove Colonel TC Frost statue that is across from Frost Bank.

        Frost, the founder of Frost Bank, not only SIGNED the Texas Articles of Separation, and after the Civil War, he REFUSED to sign the the allegiance to the Union.


  8. Before you decide to say “ridiculous” and complain that history is being hidden, read this history. It’s a document entitled “A declaration of the causes which impel the State of Texas to secede from the Federal Union.” Read it very closely and notice how many times slavery, the inferiority of Blacks and the superiority of whites is mentioned, then ask yourself if it’s appropriate to have a monument to this in Travis Park. This document IS the issue. Not hiding history. The history is in this document and it’s not hidden one bit. Hiding this document would be the real travesty. Here, take a look.

    A declaration of the causes which impel the State of Texas to secede from the Federal Union.

  9. Those idiots just need to stop and leave san antonio and texas alone. I’m Hispanic and i support the Confederate flag and the Confederate history in San antonio and Texas.

  10. Texas fought 2 wars for the “freedom” to own human chattel- the war with Mexico after Mexican president Bustamente declared outlawing of slavery be implemented in Texas (1830) & the American civil war (1861). i understand why “white” folk are proud of their “heritage” but it offends the rest of us.

    • Well, Gilberto:

      To be blunt, your blatantly racist comments are also offensive.

      Still, they aren’t as distressing as your fearful lack of understanding regarding Texas history.

      The original friction between Mexico’s government and the Texians developed from the immigrant’s insistence that the Mexican constitution be enforced both uniformly and equally (no redundancy intended).

      After the matter of slavery became a major point of contention, Brigadier General Manuel Mier y Teran began a tour of the Anglo/northern/Texas side of Texas y Coahuila during the early part of 1828. He made an observation that provides us with some insight into the Mexican’s approach to their own Constitution.

      General Teran noted the Texians metaphorically “carried their constitutions in their pockets.” He was speaking of the Mexican Constitution!

      By the time an absolute prohibition on the practice of slavery was enacted with the Decree of 6 April ’30 (over eight-and-a-half YEARS after Mexico took the land from Spain), any realistic hope of forcing Texians to acquiesce was fading fast. After all, many Anglo residents presumed (and justifiably so) that this sudden interest in the “rights” of others was just another ill-advised and poorly executed attempt on the part of the Mexican government to micro-manage their lives.

      In fact, had Mexico viewed their own Constitution as seriously as the Texians did, things may have ended quite differently!

      Ultimately, it was Santa Anna’s claim of dictatorial powers, his complete abandonment of Mexico’s constitution and the dissolution of its Congress that pushed the Texians over the edge. His actions created a vacuum that invited – nay, encouraged – the use of force.

      He started the fight; we finished it.

      After Santa Anna almost wiped Zacatecas off the face of the Earth and butchered over 2,000 people, he headed northeast.

      And the rest (as they say) is history.

      Garl B. Latham

      • After 1830, the slaves became indentured servants in Texas, Garl is right in that what pushed the Texans over the edge with the 7 laws and Santa Ana’s dictatorship in 1835 which stopped immigration to Texas and trade,,,, basically cutting the cotton trade…. and then his sacking of Zacatecas and the harsh put downs of the other northern Mexican states that got the Texans to realize they had to fight. But Gilberto is also right in that they were fighting to keep their indentured servant (slave) economy. Immediately after Santa Ana’s surrender,, and most likely before the rebellion even began, they were in contact with the US about statehood, which took a decade to come about and even then caused the war with Mexico that the US gov feared.

        • Careful, Steve:

          You keep muddling your “slavery” message by tying it in with economics.

          You know, we may yet end up discussing the ultimate reason for these wars!

          • Slavery was maintained by the southern states after the Civil War in the form of Debt Peonage that was enforced by racist southern legislatures using vagrancy laws to return blacks to slavery by another name.

  11. The Confederate flag has been appropriated and used as a racist symbol for far too long and needs to be removed from publicly funded assembly buildings and relegated instead to use by the racists and bigots who wish to flail it on their own private property, so the rest of us know who they are. But this to me seems to be taking things too far. This is not a well worn racist symbol used to consistently terrorize and intimidate people. You can’t be mad about removing Jim Crow from our crappy Texas textbooks and then seek to have this kind of thing removed. You can’t erase history. Nor should you want to. It’s how we learn and grow as a nation and hopefully it’s what we refer to so we don’t repeat the unsavory and heinous acts of the past. At least that’s how I see it.

  12. No, the memorial should not come down. It simply needs a small alteration. The inscription “Our Confederate Dead” promotes the divisions that lead to the Civil War. I would like to see that inscription changed to “Our Civil War Dead.” The Civil War is a tragic part of our history that damaged our entire nation, not just a part of it. We must not romanticize the divisions that led to the war. We must not shove it under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen. We must remember it and ensure that it does not happen again.

      • the winners typically do, although in this case I don’t think the losers ever quit fighting.

        Just like in an unrelated topic where the Texas School Board of Education adopted flawed textbooks that have a very biased political slant, some opinions presented as “facts”, and unfortunately put Texas students at an educational disadvantage against other states for future job competitiveness and critical thinking. Those in control always have a greater say.

        • Wow, Steve; “future job competitiveness”?

          We came ’round to economics again so soon?!

          [By the way: I don’t pretend to represent any of the other “losers.” I only speak for myself. That being said, I’ll “quit fighting” the day I die.]

          • Slavery is nothing but economics and power. And in the case of the US southern states it was mixed with the supremacy of the “white race” from what they took as Biblical approval. You give the impression that you’re ok with that, and even more so that you think that’s an honorable cause that should be held in respect. I disagree.

          • “Slavery is nothing but economics and power.”

            Pretty much, Steve. I’m glad to see we’re finally cutting past the frills and getting to the fundamentals.

            I have a tremendous problem with the worship of material goods! Perhaps we could find that as a point of agreement; I don’t know.

            What I DO know is that the North suffered from the same idolatrous lifestyle – and that it has remained, unabated, an integral part of of life in these United States ever sense.

            I also know that the “Union” used a similar misapplication of scripture to justify its war against aboriginal peoples, which reached its peak in the years immediately following the defeat of the Confederate States.

            Surely you’re not okay with that!

            If the South stands condemned, then the United States stands condemned. Are we ready to honestly and constructively deal with our collective past?

            While we’re waiting for the answer, I’ll continue to chafe at the effrontery of those who act as though they have the right to judge others.


          • “…an integral part of of life…ever sense”?!

            Well, now I really can’t remember what I wanted to write!

            I suppose it should have either been “ever since” or “in every sense.”

            Mea culpa.

    • great points Mike and we know from history that the Civil War was mostly about slavery as indicated in their own Articles of Secession. Just read the Texas articles and you will see the real reasons for the Civil War: but in case one is still brainwashed here is a quote from the Texas Articles of Secession: “Texas . . . was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery– the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits—a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy.” Proof that the Civil War was about slavery.

  13. The solution is obvious to me. Cities have a long history of moving monuments as the times change and social conditions and tastes require such. Sometimes this means destroying it (not good), sometimes moving it to a museum, and sometimes to a more appropriate location. In this case, there are museum options but better, in my opinion, would be to move it to the Confederate soldiers cemetery here in town.

  14. This didn’t seem to bother these guys or anyone else before!
    Was there a hate crime committed as a result of this monument being displayed in a public park? Has there been any protests for removal of this monument before yesterday? I haven’t looked that up yet and I’ll leave that to the protestors. Find anything that backs up your reasoning for the removal of this monument and I’ll support it.
    Otherwise, LEAVE it!
    This is getting out of hand and I find this more as a move to further your political career than a move to help benefit the city.

  15. The best proof of this comes from the pro-slavery men themselves as written in the Texas Articles of Secession of 1861. A simple read of the historical document shows that the Civil War was about slavery and the southern states wanting the right to keep people in perpetual bondage. Here are their exact words as pointed out by County Commissioner Calvert from the Texas articles: “We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.”

    • You’re still attempting to skirt around the foundational issue, Mario.

      WHY was it so important for the Confederacy to maintain its system of slavery? For that matter, why was slavery so vital that it was worth an all-out war to perpetuate?

      Simply put, the plantation owners (the “one-percenters” of their day) made money – and lots of it – by keeping the social order as it was. Period.

      If “the Civil War was about slavery,” then why did the North claim they were fighting to preserve the Union?

      The so-called “Civil War” BECAME all “about slavery” when the North found it politic to redefine the fight.

      Their ploy obviously worked, too. After all, we’re still having this conversation a century-and-a-half later, with the South standing condemned for raising a finger and the North holding fast as a paragon worthy of eternal praise.

      Garl B. Latham

  16. That racist statue and all Confederate symbols of hatred need to go to museums just like the Germans did with Nazi trash. Here is the PROOF

    A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union.
    “The people of Texas, by deputies in convention assembled, on the fourth day of July of the same year, assented to and accepted said proposals and formed a constitution for the proposed State, upon which on the 29th day of December in the same year, said State was formally admitted into the Confederated Union . . . .
    . . . We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable
    . . .That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights [emphasis in the original]; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.
    For these and other reasons, solemnly asserting that the federal constitution has been violated and virtually abrogated by the several States named, seeing that the federal government is now passing under the control of our enemies to be diverted from the exalted objects of its creation to those of oppression and wrong, and realizing that our own State can no longer look for protection, but to God and her own sons– We the delegates of the people of Texas, in Convention assembled, have passed an ordinance dissolving all political connection with the government of the United States of America and the people thereof and confidently appeal to the intelligence and patriotism of the freemen of Texas to ratify the same at the ballot box, on the 23rd day of the present month.
    Adopted in Convention on the 2nd day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one and of the independence of Texas the twenty-fifth.”

  17. Not skirting anything but you must remember that the economics that you refer to had a racial basis that was tied at the hip to the plantation system. The money being made was justified on the false concept of race and so your trying to waddle it down to just economics……your only half right CBLANTHAM

    • Was it “just economics”? No.

      Was it ultimately an economic issue? Yes.

      Was the “money being made…justified on the false concept of race”? No.

      Were the South’s racial concepts used to justify the way their money was being made? Yes.

  18. The Taliban might be able to give the fundamentalists some tips on the best methods of removing uncomfortable relics from the past.

    • The Taliban? The slave owners were better than them at terrorizing, torturing, lynching, and tearing families apart.

          • First hand? No, thank goodness.

            I am an avid student of history, though – and attempt to stay current with newsworthy events (i.e. I know something about the Taliban, but next to nothing about Kim Kardashian).

            To intimate slaveholders of the antebellum South, as a group, were worse than the Taliban is a ridiculously unjustifiable statement.

            You obviously have access to the internet. I’m sure that general information regarding the Taliban and its sundry activities is just a click or two away.

            Good-bye, Mario. Take care.

  19. Basically what we the people witnessed is “organized crime” (with SAEN and Rivard Report called in to participate). This is the first sponsored Tricentennial Event of this new administration. No doubt, now that a gaping wound has been opened, gangrene is setting in.

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