Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the City of Houston plans to relocate the Dowling and Spirit of Confederacy statues, which are currently both located in two City of Houston parks.
The statues will be removed by Friday, June 19, in commemoration of the Juneteenth holiday, which memorializes the day slaves in Texas learned the Emancipation Proclamation granted their freedom.
In August 2017, Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed a task force of historians, community leaders, and department directors to review the City’s inventory of items related to the confederacy and recommend appropriate action.
The task force recommended that the statues be removed from Houston public property and not be destroyed. (Click the links for the final report and final appendix).
After the task force submitted its findings, the City began working on a plan with partner organizations and funders to identify new locations to place the statues permanently.
The two relevant statues in local public parks will be relocated, at no public expense, to separate sites that provide greater historical context for public viewing.
The Houston Endowment has provided a grant to transfer the Spirit of The Confederacy in Sam Houston Park downtown to be displayed at the Houston Museum of African American Culture in the Museum District.
A statue of Richard W. “Dick” Dowling in Hermann Park is expected to be moved to a permanent display at the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site in Port Arthur, TX. The Executive Committee of the Texas Historical Commission voted to accept the statute and the full Commission will consider the item at its quarterly meeting on June 17.
“While we have been working on a plan for some time, I have decided to move forward now considering the events of the past several weeks, Mayor Turner said. “Our plan for relocating confederate statues from public parks to locations more relevant to modern times preserves history and provides an opportunity for our city to heal.”
“Houston Endowment is proud to support the relocation of the Spirit of the Confederacy to the Houston Museum of African American Culture, where it can be interpreted in a way that promotes an inclusive and anti-racist community, said Ann Stern, President and CEO.
“This is a huge step forward in the Museum’s history of hosting difficult conversations, underscoring our multicultural conversation on race geared toward a common future. We have an opportunity to learn from our history, the good and the bad, to truly forge one nation,” said John Guess, HMACC CEO Emeritus.
The City of Houston’s General Services Department (GSD) will begin relocating the statues next week. The City will place them in temporary storage until the partner organizations are ready to receive the delivery.
“I’m grateful for the City of Houston Confederate Items Task Force’s guidance and the generosity of the Houston Endowment for their crucial roles in the plan,” Turner added. “And I’m proud of how this plan formed with input from many sectors of the city and deep consideration of all sensitive factors involved.”