CONTACT: Bruce Davidson, 210-207-8998
Maria Luisa Cesar, 210-861-9030
SAN ANTONIO (Aug. 31, 2017) — Mayor Ron Nirenberg closed Thursday’s debate preceding the City Council vote to remove the Confederate statue at Travis Park.
Mayor Nirenberg’s statement is below:
“I want to start off by thanking all of those who have made their voices heard. The civic engagement of our constituents is key in making us better public servants. Your participation has fostered real conversations as to who we are as a city.
“We know where this movement began.
“Two years ago -- after the horrific murders of churchgoers during a peaceful service in South Carolina -- this nation was forced to confront a difficult reality. A reality that many people have lived with, but collectively we had been unwilling to confront: that the divisions of race and class in communities have not healed. Rather, they had only been covered up.
“Now, we have the opportunity to move forward and help close that chapter in San Antonio. With the removal of the Confederate statue, we are asserting that this monument — a monument to a war that defended the indefensible — located in the middle of a public park, is no longer acceptable.
“I stand in support of my colleagues, Councilman Shaw and Councilman Treviño who initiated this process.
“I want to be clear that while we worked with deliberate speed, we listened to residents from every corner of San Antonio… through public forums like this one, through social media, through letters, meetings, and phone calls.
“There are those who say that removing a monument to the Confederacy is erasing history. Others say removing a century-old statue will do nothing to erase the scars of slavery and racism, and that it is naive to suggest otherwise. I reject those notions.
“This monument glorifies a lost cause that this City fundamentally rejects today, just as it did in 1861.
“Hundreds of San Antonians cast their votes against the Articles of Secession and chose to reject the Confederacy, to stay a member of a more perfect union.
“Today, we have the opportunity to vote to move forward. I ask you, can we not honor those who died without glorifying their cause, in a modern city? Yes, we can.
“The march to social justice is taken one step at a time, and it is taken by many people. It would be a monumental miscalculation to underestimate the moment we are in today, the opportunity we have as a city, as a country, to write our next chapter of that story. The Travis Park monument is historical, and part of that history will be the choice this Council makes.
“Today, we write a new chapter in our history and in the history of this monument by removing it from our Travis Park public square. It is a moment of our history -- on the cusp of our second three hundred years -- for which our next generation can be proud when they read about it.
As it has been noted often in these chambers by one of our own young leaders:
‘Obligation will threaten, that if I don't act, I will be in trouble. But responsibility will say that if I don't act, THEY will be in trouble. No, it may not be your job or obligation to see these matters gripped with urgency. But it is your responsibility.’
“When I made the decision to run for mayor of San Antonio, I did so with the future in mind to make this a city of equality and decency. It might not be our obligation, but I see it as our responsibility to plan for future generations.
“And I cannot in good conscience advocate for the future of our city if we support pillars of our past that glorify its darkest chapters.
“Some people shrink from tough decisions, but leaders rise to the occasion. San Antonians elected this Council to lead. And now is the time to act. Let’s cast this vote.”