Texarkana, USA: A unique Confederate Monument located in Texarkana, USA has now become the subject of a planned protest. On June 10, the Texarkana Gazette ran an article indicating that the Texarkana Area Women Veterans are planning a march on June 19 – Juneteenth Celebration Day in Texas. The march, according to the article, is to prompt conversation about taking the monument down and relocating it to some type of museum setting. Within a few hours, social media was running wild with comments to support keeping the monument and arguments for moving it.
The Texarkana monument is known as the “Confederate Mothers Monument” according to records in Texas and online. Although sites like Wikipedia and Waymarking claim the monument faces the U.S. Courthouse and the North, it does not. The monument and the soldier on top face the south. The original intention was for it to look toward the south and pay respect to the mothers who gave sons during the war. Some online have indicated that it was meant for both Union and Confederate mothers, but by all indications of the inscriptions, it was dedicated directly to the mothers and Confederate soldiers. The dedication was held on April 21, 1918, and the monument contains figures brought from Italy. According to most online sites, this is believed to be the only Confederate monument to include a woman in Texas.
The protest is planned for 8 Friday June 19th, however, counter-protesters were quick to note that they would be there in online posts on social media outlet Facebook. There have been informal polls on Facebook and at least one poll conducted by the Texarkana Gazette at this time. Most post and the informal poll seem to indicate the community is in support of leaving the monument at its current location.
The monument is considered by most historians to be part of a movement known collectively as “The Cult of the Confederacy.” The movement was in full bloom from about the late 1880s through the 1950s. It could be argued that the fascination with the Confederacy that resulted in the “cult” or the strong following lasted more into the early 1990s with television shows like The Dukes of Hazzard and the sale of Rebel or Confederate Memorabilia. During this period, especially from the 1890s through the early part of the 1900s, it was not uncommon for statues and monuments to be built with donated funds. Donations were often collected and former Confederate soldiers and friends would come out for the monument’s dedication. Some of the former Confederates wrote letters of appreciation, and towns across the south and many towns in the north worked to have monuments constructed and dedicated. At one time there were believed to be over 800 monuments to the Confederacy. In many towns and for many groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy the monuments became ways to mourn those lost in the war, celebrate the sacrifices of those still living and honor the history.
While the supporters of leaving the monuments alone as part of history and heritage argue their point, there are equally passionate arguments on the side wishing to remove the monuments from the public eye. Many feel the monuments represent slavery, oppression, and white supremacy. Regardless of how the Civil War started, few can argue that by the end of the war, slavery had become a central focus. President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation has become one of the most cited and independent documents to support that by the end of the war, the focus had shifted almost exclusively to slavery. The Proclamation freed slaves in the states in rebellion. While the document did nothing to free slaves in the five slave states that remained in the Union, it has still become the cornerstone for the end of slavery. Slavery would officially end in the United States eight months after the Confederacy surrendered. The end of slavery in the south and eventually in the north in close proximity to the end of the Civil War promoted the frustration felt by many of the decedents of former slaves toward Confederate monuments and statues.
No matter where you stand regarding the Confederate Monument in Texarkana, the one clear is, there are two sides going to converge in peaceful demonstrations on June 19th. One side is asking that the monument be moved to a museum type of setting. The other side is asking for it to stay on the land that was put in the trust for the monument. The United States is currently facing requests to remove statues and monuments by people wanting to take down Confederate Monuments, Revolution monuments, and others. The final fact is that while one side may fight for the removal of a monument or statue today, tomorrow that same group may find itself fighting to try to preserve one that is important to them. This cycle of “take it down” has really only just started building up.