HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the city’s plans to relocate two Confederate statues, the Dowling and Spirit of Confederacy, in commemoration of Juneteenth.
The holiday on Friday celebrates the day enslaved people in Texas learned that the Emancipation Proclamation had granted them freedom three years earlier.
The Spirit of the Confederacy will be moved from San Houston Park in downtown Houston to the Houston Museum of African American Culture in the Museum District with grant money from the Houston Endowment.
The 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, Texas. The Executive Committee of the Texas Historical Commission voted to accept the statue and a full commission will vote on June 17.
The city will place the statues in temporary storage until the partner organizations are ready to receive the delivery, according to a press release.
Turner hopes that the relocation of the statues will prevent vandalism and provide better historical context for the statues than public parks.
In 2017, 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 had recommended that the statues be removed from public property and not be destroyed after submitting their findings. See a full list of artwork in Houston that are connected to the Confederacy, the Civil War or slavery here.
“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,” 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 of Houston Museum of African American Culture.