Two counterpetitions have been created by Marshall citizens to keep the Confederate statue in its current location outside of the Harrison County courthouse in downtown Marshall.
The two petitions are a response to one recently created by Marshall Against Violence president Demetria McFarland, who created a petition over a week ago that calls for the removal of the statue from courthouse grounds.
McFarland also spoke to Harrison County Commissioner’s on June 24 to discuss her reasons for wanting the statue removed, referring to it as a symbol of white supremacy.
Community member LeighAnn Buchanan was present during McFarland’s presentation, and was one of the community members who began a petition against the statues removal. Buchanan’s petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/city-of-marshall-preserve-history-by-not-giving-in-to-people-that-take-advantage-of-other-events
This petition was begun three days ago and has over 1,700 signatures since Friday.
Buchanan said that she began the petition, as well as a Facebook group called “Save our Soldier”, because she believes removing the statue would be akin to erasing a piece of history.
“This is about the preservation of history,” she said. “We need to learn from history and sometimes those hard lessons are painful, but that means we need to learn from them.”
She said that the meaning of the statue, in her opinion, is to honor the young men who died in the Civil War, and its true meaning is being misrepresented in the public.
Buchanan said she is against moving the statue at all, but instead proposed that a new statue be added to the west side of the courthouse of James Farmer.
Farmer was an esteemed American civil rights leader and activist who was a native of Marshall.
“I feel like by adding this statue we can have a more full representation of our local history on the courthouse,” she said.
Another petition against the statue removal was begun by community member Susan Chamberlain on Tuesday, and has over 1,100 signatures as of Friday.
Chamberlain’s petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/harrison-county-marshall-texas-save-our-historical-statues-and-monuments
Chamberlain said that she is also working on a paper petition, and spent most of Friday outside of the courthouse signing people up in front of the monument. Though Chamberlain was not sure what the exact number of paper signatures were from Friday’s event she said they had a lot of people come out to sign.
“Just because it has confederate on it does not mean it is a confederate soldier,” she said. “This monument stands for all of the husbands, fathers, and sons who were drafted into war and never came home.”
She said that the Daughters of the Confederacy made it clear when the erected the statue in 1906 that it was a monument to those who served the cause with honor, and stood for all United States Veterans.
“I thought the president of that group was very eloquent when she said that this was not a statue that expressed positivity for slavery, but rather for those who fought with honor and never got to see their families again,” Chamberlain said.
Petitions on both sides seem to have an almost equal amount of support for the two causes.
While the counter petitions have begun to gain traction locally a number of Marshall natives have reached out to help McFarland with her goal of getting the statue removed, including Anna Ansari.
Ansari grew up in Marshall, graduating from Marshall High School before leaving the area for college. Ansari is now a practicing lawyer in Austin. She said that she originally heard about the petition after reading about the confederate statue in Gregg County.
“I didn’t even realize that we had a confederate statue in the area, and when I read about I learned it does not have any historical significance, it is just a mass produced statue for all of the soldiers who died in the Civil War,” she said.
Ansari said that she reached out to the Texas Historical Commission and learned that it would require the Harrison County Commissioners presenting the historical commission with a plan to move the statue before it can be done.
She then reached out to McFarland to express her support and offer her expertise to assist her in reaching her goal and removing the statue from courthouse grounds.
Ansari said that in Denton the confederate statue was placed in storage until a proper place to display it could be found. She said she would like to see this same thing done in Marshall.
McFarland’s petition to remove the statue can be found at https://www.change.org/p/harrison-county-commissioners-removal-of-confederate-statue-from-the-harrison-county-courthouse-grounds-marshall-tx?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=custom_url&recruited_by_id=1a5467b0-b1a9-11ea-887b-01626a7495b2 and has over 2,000 signatures as of Friday.