'We Always Knew What It Stood For': Small Texas Town Torn Over Its Confederate Statue

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tags: Texas, memorials, Confederacy, public history

The figure of a young Confederate soldier holding a rifle has gazed out from his pedestal in front of the Harrison County courthouse in the piney woods of northeast Texas for 114 years.

The eight-foot statue was a gift — like hundreds of others across the South — from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They are memorials to the war dead and, historians say, monuments to white supremacy and Jim Crow laws.

"Growing up, we always knew that it was here on the courthouse square," says Demetria McFarland, the implacable fifth-grade teacher and community activist who is spearheading the campaign to relocate the statue in the county seat of Marshall. "We always knew what it stood for. It was just one of those taboo things, you know."

More than 60 monuments that celebrate the Confederacy and its military men have come down in cities all across America — from San Diego to Raleigh, N.C., — since the death of George Floyd. Many have been removed in medium- to large-sized cities, according to a tally by the Associated Press.

But more than 1,700 monuments remain, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, including in some small Southern towns that may be more protective of their Civil War monuments. In Marshall, an emotional debate over the fate of "the farm boy" — as some call the rebel soldier carved of Italian marble — is roiling residents.

"We're not asking them to destroy the statue," McFarland said. "We're asking them to remove it. I no longer want to have my taxpayer dollars keeping this symbol of hate and racism erected here on the courthouse square."

Read entire article at NPR

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