The debate over what, if anything, should happen to the Confederate monument that sits on the corner of the Grayson County Courthouse lawn continues to swirl with an online petition and a protest gathering held Thursday afternoon.
Local barber Terrell Hughes started the online petition at change.org to get the Confederate monument on the Grayson County Courthouse removed. As of Thursday, it had more than 4,600 signatures.
Thursday, Hughes said now is the time for the relic to go. That is the same sentiment voiced Tuesday before the Grayson County Commissioners by Sherman Attorney David Kennedy.
The monument, according to the information recorded on the Grayson County Historical Society webpage on the county’s website, was the first Confederate monument erected in Texas in April of 1896. That was almost 30 years after the Civil War ended with a win for the Union side.
The historical marker on the monument says, "The first Confederate monument erected in Texas, April 3, 1896. Sacred to the memory of our Confederate dead. True patriots, they fought for home and country, for the holy principles of self-government, the only true liberty. Their sublime self-sacrifice and unsurpassed valor will teach future generations the lesson of high born patriotism of devotion to duty, of exalted courage of Southern chivalry. History has enshrined them immortal."
Hughes said the monument stands for a losing cause and a treasonists one at that. More importantly, he said, it represents an reverence for a cause that sought to continue the subjugation of one race to another.
The 2005 graduate of Sherman High School said he was in town recently getting physical signatures for the petition when he stopped in at a local grocery store. When he came back out, he said, he was greeted by a Confederate flag in the back of a pickup truck.
He said when he tells people outside this area about those kinds of things still being seen in this day and age, they don’t believe it. But, he said, its still here. The confederate monument still is there and there is still reverence for that flag.
"It’s time for a change," he said.
When he saw that Confederate monuments were being removed in other places including in Dallas, Terrell said he knew it was time for someone to step up and do something about the monument on the courthouse lawn.
"We still deal with systematic racism in Grayson County to this day," he said.
"The things that (people who signed the petition) were telling me about that they don’t feel like they will get a fair shot because of the Confederacy roots that stretches from the community all of the way into the criminal justice system."
Thirty years after the monument was put in place at the Grayson County Courthouse, a mob burned the courthouse to the ground after a black man named George Hughes was accused of attacking a white woman.
"It took martial law," he said, to still the unrest that ensued. That unrest resulted in the total destruction of the black business community in what he said he read had previously been called, "the Athens of Texas" because of all of the art and business that went on in the area.
And that community, he said, has never really been allowed to recover. The only thing left after that period, he said, were the businesses owned by people who supported the Confederacy.
He said having the monument on the courthouse square is a deterrent to economic advancement for the area because some people see that and then don’t want to live here.
When asked about the statements made Tuesday by Grayson County Commissioner David Whitlock that if the monument were to be removed it should be due to a vote of the people of the county. Hughes said people are already voting for that on his petition.
And, he said he is working to make sure he gets signatures of those who don’t participate in social media or online petitions because those generations are the ones who tell the most harrowing stories of systematic racism in this area.
Hughes’s petition may be found at the address below.