Vote set on Confederate monument

Joseph Brown | The ItemA Confederate statue on the grounds of the Walker County Courthouse has become a topic of debate, with some in the community calling for its removal. 

The monument honoring “Confederate Patriots” that stands outside the Walker County Courthouse in Huntsville won’t be going anywhere.

Monday at their regular meeting, the Walker County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to keep the monument where it is. The move comes after nearly six months of public testimony, where the court has remained mute, until now.

“It’s been a long struggle, but this monument doesn’t belong to us … it doesn’t belong to this county,” Walker County Judge Danny Pierce said. “We didn’t place it there, someone else did, and like the testimony said this morning, it represents guys that did not think of owning slaves.

“We are elected to represent all of the people. I live in a black neighborhood and my neighbors are behind me 100 percent.”

The monument on the north side of the courthouse’s lawn was erected in 1956 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, it is one of four Confederate monuments or memorials that were erected in Texas in the 1950s. The other three have all been removed.

“I lived in Huntsville in 1956 and at that time Jim Crow still existed in this community,” said Dr. Richard Watkins during the public comment period. “We recognize that what happened is history, but not all history is good history for everybody. A great portion of your community — not all African Americans — have been offended by what this monument stands for.”

Watkins was one of 28 community members to provide public comment prior to the vote, two of which spoke in favor of keeping the monument. Residents against removal have argued that the monument is a piece of Southern heritage, is historically educational and honors fallen relatives. Opponents insist they are brutal reminders of slavery and Black oppression.

Commissioner Bill Daugette (Pct. 3) was absent from the meeting and did not cast a vote.

In other action, county commissioners:

• extended an emergency declaration for the coronavirus, with officials say that they are still in the process of procuring CARES Act money.

• revising a lease schedule for county-owned voting equipment, which would result in an increased cost for area entities.

• re-appointed Mike Bilberry and Floyd Garner to the Walker County ESD No. 3 Board of Directors.

NEXT MEETING

The next scheduled meeting of the Walker County Commissioners Court is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2021 at the Walker County Courthouse.

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