It is about time!!!
Some city governments are making bold statements about history and altering their image by separating from a past that promoted Slavery, Racism and Jim Crow ways.
It is a move that really sends the message that leaders intend to be “Welcoming Leaders” at the helm of “Welcoming” cities.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, the Liberty Place monument and three other memorials to rebel leaders — Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gens. Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard — were ordered removed in 2015. After city meetings and court battles, the monuments are being removed.
Most recently, the Liberty Place monument, one of the most offensive of the New Orleans tributes to “the lost cause of the Confederacy,” was dismantled.
The Battle of Liberty Place monument honors members of the Crescent City White League who died trying to overthrow the New Orleans government after the Civil War.
Much of the hoopla has been over how to handle and remember the genuine Civil War legacies in America.
Houston is yet to shed itself of such history or even deal with the issue. Many of its statues and tributes to the Confederate leaders remains.
One example is the standing statue of Dick Dowling.
According the city of Houston website, the statue of Dick Dowling guards the entrance to Hermann Park on Cambridge Street, dates from 1905, and is the work of Frank A. Teich.
It represents Dowling in his Confederate uniform, and is carved from white Carrara marble. It stands on a pedestal incised with the names of the Confederate soldiers who took part in the Battle of Sabine Pass.
It is presented as one of the most revered monuments in the city and is seen by thousands visiting Houston and the historic hospital district.
Richard William Dowling was born in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland, in 1838. His family fled the Irish Potato Famine and resettled in New Orleans, but yellow fever took its toll, killing most of them. As a young man, Dowling made his way to Houston and acquired a reputation as a businessman. He ran a series of saloons and a Galveston-based liquor importing business.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Dowling enlisted as a lieutenant in the Jefferson Davis Guards. Jefferson Davis was the President of the Confederate States of America.
The unit saw some action, its main contribution to the Confederacy being the 1863 recapture of Galveston and the routing of a Union invasion force at the Battle of Sabine Pass.
Dowling was hailed as a war hero in Houston, and the end of the war saw him resume his successful business career. Yellow fever took his life in 1867.
He was commemorated by the City Fathers through the naming of Dowling and Tuam Streets, and by the Dick Dowling statue, the first publicly financed monument in Houston.
The Take Home
There are emotional feelings on both sides of the issue, but in order for City of Houston to emerge truly as a “Welcoming City”, it too much draw the line in the sand and declare that such tributes to slavery, racism and heroes of the Jim Crow era and prior must be condemned and taken down.
We can no longer honor or allow the presence of such offensive statues and monuments to stand.
Too many Black people suffered and died at the hands of lynchings and the promotion of slavery, inequality and injustice.
There must be a better way to preserve history than seeing these constant reminders of our past masters, abusers and captors who did not even recognize Blacks as equal or human.
In 2017, it is time Houston change course and define the true meaning of being “Welcoming” to all by not promoting offensive historical statues and removing Dowling’s statue and all others that do not promote justice, peace, equality and harmony for who live and visit this great city.