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Controversy on the Square: Confederate Statue Protest

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Controversy on the Square: Confederate Statue Protest


The Georgetown Square is a gathering place for Southwestern students and Georgetown residents alike, a popular destination boasting picturesque old-fashioned buildings and a wide variety of shops and restaurants. For many, however, the Confederate statue that looms over the courthouse lawn presents a painful reminder of racist ideology in the past and the present. 

On Saturday, April 13, 2024, dozens of people gathered outside the courthouse for a morning of music, speeches, and peaceful protest. A table at the front of the event offered a petition calling for the removal of the statue, as well as hand-written signs reading “this is not us,” “no need for hate,” and “I have a dream”. 

Installed in 1916, the 21-foot tall statue depicts a Confederate soldier standing at “ground arms” (weapon and forearms held tight to the body) atop a column. Near the base of the column, an inscription reads “In memory of the Confederate soldiers & sailors. Erected under the auspices of the U.D.C of Williamson County. 1916”. “U.D.C” refers to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, an organization dedicated to memorializing Confederate ancestors and “preserving…Confederate valor”. 

The event began with an invocation from Reverend Jessica Peterson of the Wellspring United Methodist Church. Although the Move the Monument organization is not affiliated with any religion, the event was interfaith and emphasized the importance of equality, justice, and acceptance for all in many faiths. Volunteer Natasha Consuelo Reyna emphasized this, saying:

“Me personally, and the organization, we are not religious, but as far as love for all and respect for all we have a lot in common there.”

Photo by Hagar Cohen

Following the invocation, various speakers went on stage, including Jim Deuser, who led a responsive reading with the crowd. After reading out explicitly racist and pro-slavery passages from the Texas Declaration of Causes (a document detailing the reasons Texas chose to secede from the Union), he called out, “in 2024, people of faith and people of conscience residing in Williamson County, Texas, we say this day…” and encouraged the gathered crowd to respond “this is not us!”. Reverend Drew Ingram of the Christ Lutheran Church also detailed the importance of this protest: 

“This is a follow-up event to something we had several months ago, and we knew we had to keep the momentum going,” he explained. Ingram also described the importance of religious figures to engage in activism and to seek equality, stating that “in places of pain and hurt it is my call to stand with those who are oppressed and marginalized and try to help them in any way I can. I stand on the teachings of my faith and my church, to amplify the voices of those who have been silenced, to provide an abundant and full life for everybody”. 

This interfaith community gathering was organized by Jason Norwood, a Georgetown resident who, in 2022, launched a federal lawsuit to get the monument taken down. 

“There’s a lot of good people here who come together for the good of other people,” Norwood stated. “There’s a ton of things people can do to support taking the monument. We have people setting up, taking down, taking petitions, talking to people– sometimes we ask people to run interference with these guys [men in Confederate uniforms directly beside the protest] who like to set up in front and block our stuff”. 

Norwood also offered some insight into the process of planning the event and events like it, explaining that the hardest part of planning was deciding what to speak about to have the most impact on the community: “Do we talk about the history, the moral ineptitude of it, the bigotry associated with it?”

On how his faith plays into his activism, Norwood detailed, “I have no faith in humans but I have all the faith in the Lord. I try to have faith in the fact that though the arc of the moral universe is long it bends towards justice– that is a King quote, but I have an addition to it and that is it bends if someone is willing to do the bending”. I’m willing to do the bending. I’m willing to do the work”.

Move the Monument plans to make Georgetown Square a more welcoming and emotionally safe environment for everyone by relocating the statue that, to many, represents such a painful and problematic history ingrained with racism. They will provide more petitions, gatherings, and opportunities to protest the presence of this monument.

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