After much debate, leaders in a Texas county voted unanimously Tuesday to keep the Confederate soldier monument that sits outside its county courthouse in downtown Denton, but it will be adding historical context.
Denton County commissioners approved an ad hoc committee's recommendation to keep the monument and install new informational video kiosks and a large plaque that will soon accompany the monument. They have not agreed on how the county will pay for the project, the Denton Record-Chronicle reported.
Denton is about 40 miles northwest of Dallas.
What's the story?
An ad hoc committee formed in October spent months researching and discussing the monument with residents. It recommended adding a plaque with a “strongly worded statement” that decries slavery and adding kiosks that could feature videos that explore historical race relations in the county.
The committee also suggested that the monument could be used to honor veterans of any war.
“[The committee] certainly wants slavery addressed, and I’m fine with that,” Denton County Judge Mary Horn said. “It needs to be there. Like I said, not all history is pretty.”
Commissioner Hugh Coleman suggested using a quote from the Gettysburg Address or Martin Luther King Jr. on the plaque.
“I’m concerned, given the animus and rancor at some of the [public input] meetings, that it would be very difficult to put together a statement that would appease everyone,” he said.
Who will pay for it?
Some suggested using county money should fund the project. But not all residents agreed and instead wanted it paid for with donations and private monies.
"I have had emails from citizens who say they're not opposed to additional context, but the statue was put up with donated funds, and if anything is added, they want it done with donated funds, not county tax dollars," Horn said, who also suggested private funding.
“If the commissioners don’t want to do it, then we need to do it, but the whole thing is we need to get it done,” the committee's chairman, John Baines, said.
The 100-year-old statue is a state and federal landmark, which means the county must contact the Texas Historical Commission before moving forward with potential changes.
Start and completion dates are not determined.
“I just want to make sure we’re actively working on it and getting it done,” Coleman said. “Then we can get back to our main job of building roads and funding county agencies.”