A diverse group of local educators, called Educators for Public Service, has banned together to work towards a compromise on the current issues surrounding the Confederate statue outside of the Harrison County Courthouse in Marshall.
The group was formed after Marshall Against Violence president Demetria McFarland began a petition to have the statue removed from the courthouse grounds. After that petition began to gain traction, two other petitions were started by the community against the statue’s removal.
Members of the executive committee of the group are Jay Carriker, Raymond Fogg, Sinia Harris, Steph Gorski, Jonathan McCarty, Jane Ogden, Tasha Williams and Brooke Woodard.
The group is working on a plan for the statue that focus’ on three areas; preserve, relocate and replace.
“Our first goal is to educate people and engage with people who have a different perspective than us,” Fogg said.
The group said that the main goal was to ensure a peaceful conversation and resolution to the issues, and to avoid conflict over the statue.
“In Marshall we are a smaller community, so being unified is so important,” Williams said.
The first step for the group after engaging with the public will be to send a letter outlining their plan to the Harrison County Commissioners.
Carriker said that the plan would be to remove the statue from courthouse grounds, and relocate it safely to a local museum, cemetery or other historical location where it can be properly monitored and maintained.
The next step would be to replace the statue on the east side of the court house with a monument to Lady Bird Johnson. Carriker said he hopes that this could coincide with Amanda Rohrbaugh’s plan to erect a statue of James Farmer on the west side of the courthouse.
“We believe that these two statues will anchor the Old Courthouse firmly in Harrison County’s history and provide a unified Southern cultural context,” a statement made by the group read.
Carriker continued that if the Harrison County Commissioners could agree to the plan and bring it to the Texas Historical Commission they would begin a social media campaign and work to crowd fund the money needed to move and replace the statue.
If the Texas Historical Commission approved the changes, and the money was raised, the community could peacefully settle the issue over the statue.
A statement made by the group says “We believe that the Confederate Veterans Memorial should be preserved through relocation to one of Marshall’s museums, institutions of higher education, or cemeteries. We believe that while the Confederate Veterans Monument has historical significance and artistic merit, its current location is untenable. We are in a historic moment and the commission has an opportunity to both advance reconciliation in our community and preserve local heritage.”
The group plans to discuss the issue with local officials in Marshall to form a unified front.
“We believe that this plan is the best path forward for our community and that it recognizes the experiences and dignity of all residents of Harrison County. We invite others to join us as we work towards a consensus informing a more detailed plan,” the statement read.