PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

April 19, 2013

Confederate Park stirring feelings in Orange County

BEAUMONT — Southeast Texas media members have flocked around the story of a controversial park being built in Orange County.

City of Orange Councilmember Annette Carson-Pernell addressed the controversy on Thursday surrounding the proposed construction of a "Confederate Flag Memorial" in Orange.

The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is building a memorial that will enable Interstate 10 travelers to "see Confederate Flags flying proudly in the Texas breeze." A flyer used for rasing funds for the project reads, “Proud of your ancestors? Take a stand on I-10!”

The memorial, which would display 26 Confederate flags visible from the Interstate, would be built at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Orange.

Some in the city have objected to the juxtaposition of a Confederate memorial along a street named for the slain civil rights leader with one Town Hall Meeting and one Concerned Citizens meeting having been held to allow residents the opportunity to voice opinions for or against the memorial, which is less than a mile from Heritage Veterans Memorial Plaza, on the campus of First Church of the Nazarene on Martin Luther King Drive. The Plaza honors all veterans.

Councilmember Pernell, who opposes the memorial, has had conversations with the SCV's Texas Division Commander Granvel Block.

Pernelll says she has invited Block to speak at town hall style meetings but he has refused to participate in those discussions.

She will speak about the controversy, touching on both sides of the issue and detail her conversations with Block on the issue.

Pernell said that  she was told the purpose of the memorial is to give the real truth about the Civil War.

“I questioned what was I not taught? What was I missing?” Pernell said. “Turns out there is a lot I did not know.”

Pernell spoke about the history of slavery, The Klu Klux Klan, The Black Panthers.

A permit for a ‘veteran’s memorial’ was issued on January 16, 2013. An e-mail sent to the City Council on February 11, 2013, informed the council the SCV were building a memorial. The plans submitted with the permit did not include  flags.

Pernell said that she was does not want the city of Orange to have the stigma of being racist.

“Stop saying what we can’t do,” Pernell said. “What can we do?”

The city sent a letter to the SCV offering to purchase the land.

“So far, there has been no response,” Pernell said.

Block was invited to address the Press Club, however, he declined.

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