HOUSTON – The president of the Houston branch of the NAACP is speaking out against Mayor Sylvester Turner’s decision to move a Confederate statue to a local museum.
"What better place than to put it in a museum, an African-American museum in an exhibit that displays the good the bad and the ugly," the mayor said on Monday.
The Spirit of the Confederacy statue will be relocated to the Houston Museum of African American Culture in Midtown.
"We're not afraid of it, we're confronting it, we're putting in the context to say this is what hatred looks like," said John Guess Jr., chief executive emeritus of HMAAC.
Guess said the statue will become part of an ongoing exhibit entitled “Lest We Forget” and funded by the Houston Endowment.
But in a strongly-worded statement issued on behalf of the Houston NAACP and on the organization’s letterhead, president Dr. James Douglas condemned the move.
“This is a situation where we’re honoring people who intended to destroy the nation and I don’t think anybody can justify that. You don’t see any statues honoring any of the Nazi regimes in Germany and you definitely wouldn’t see statue honoring Nazis who fought with Hitler in any Holocaust museums,” Douglas told KPRC 2.
Roy Malonson, publisher of African-American News and Issues, also spoke out against the relocation to HMAAC in an editorial headlined, “Has Mayor Turner Lost His Damn Mind?”
Douglas' public opposition to the relocation appears to be a break with his board.
“That statement reflects Dr. Douglas’ personal opinion to which he’s entitled,” said Bishop James Dixon II of the Community of Faith Church, who serves as second Vice President on the Houston NAACP board.
Dixon told KPRC 2 that the board as a whole had not yet taken a position, but he personally supported the relocation.
“Jesus died on the cross, we still have that cross we display it because it’s a reminder of the tragedy at Calvary," he said. "If we keep crosses up to remind us of that tragedy why not have images that remind us of the tragedy of slavery that shall not be forgotten but also moving forward brighter day?”
The confederate statues are set to be removed from city parks by June 19, also known as Juneteenth, marking the date in 1865 word of the Emancipation Proclamation was received in Galveston.