*The ‘Spirit of the Confederacy’ statue sat in the Sam Houston Park for more than a century. Last week, the monument was moved to prevent vandalism amid the ongoing civil unrest sweeping the country over race relations and police brutality.
The statue will now be housed permanently in the Houston Museum of African American Culture.
“How do we change the narrative so that we can get to the next level, which is to heal and to help us to be whole, you know, as a nation, also to make the conversation multicultural as well,” said board president Cindy Miles.
“It’s not just one side, and, again, we’ve had events and exhibits in the past that have done that, again, around Sandra Bland, around the Jim Crow South. We’ve had exhibitions around cotton, and they’re never comfortable,” she added. “But part of our name, Houston Museum of African American Culture means that we have to be prepared to have events, exhibitions that are going to be uncomfortable.”
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Here’s more from a press release:
The Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) is to be the recipient of one of Houston’s most prominent Confederate monuments, The Spirit of The Confederacy. The statue, currently located in Sam Houston Park, was erected in 1908 by the Robert E. Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Transfer of the statue to the museum’s control takes place on June 19, the state holiday known as Juneteenth, marking the day in 1865 that slaves in Texas first learned they had been freed under the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier.
The debate over whether to remove Confederate statues and monuments, many of which were built by white supremacists as a response to black civil rights efforts in the early and mid-1900s, has intensified as a result of the nationwide protests of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis.
According to CEO Emeritus John Guess, Jr., who negotiated the transfer, “Unpacking controversial or difficult topics runs deep in our organizational DNA. In the case of The Spirit, we think healing comes from taking control of negatively impactful symbols and turning them into teaching opportunities to help ensure they never have power again.”
Gina Carroll, HMAAC Board president when the transfer was negotiated indicated, ”We are an institution pushing for change, but also we must be a place where our community can come to heal. I think our supporters respect our receiving the statue and the programming that has preceded it and that will come.”
HMAAC is the only African- American Museum to have taken control of a confederate monument. According to City officials the statues will be placed in temporary storage until the museum is ready to receive them.
“The overwhelming majority of people who have reached out to us or we have reached out to, especially those familiar with our history, trust that our ability to take power from this symbol will help our community heal,” said Miles.
ABOUT THE HOUSTON MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE:
The mission of HMAAC is to collect, conserve, explore, interpret, and exhibit the material and intellectual culture of Africans and African Americans in Houston, the state of Texas, the southwest and the African Diaspora for current and future generations. In fulfilling its mission, HMAAC seeks to invite and engage visitors of every race and background and to inspire children of all ages through discovery-driven learning.
HMAAC is to be a museum for all people. While our focus is the African American experience, our story informs and includes not only people of color, but people of all colors. As a result, the stories and exhibitions that HMAAC will bring to Texas are about the indisputable fact that while our experience is a unique one, it has been impacted by and has impacted numerous races, genders and ethnicities. The museum continues to be a space where a multicultural conversation on race geared toward a common future takes place.