Vanessa F. Hicks-Callaway

Vanessa F. Hicks-Callaway

I think I know how to resolve the statue issue for Victorians. Perhaps we should ensure there are prominent structures in Victoria that honor and respect contributions blacks have made for our community and society at large. Oh, wait; we already have, and there are several: The Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building (the old post office in Victoria); Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Highway (which covers Loop 463 between the Navarro Street overpass and U.S. 59 Business overpass); the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park (3808 Callis St.); and the Harold Cade Middle School (611 W. Tropical Drive), honoring Mr. Harold Cade, a well-known, gifted, and highly respected African American educator, who taught the greatest treasures of our community, our children, for more than 40 years.

Perhaps we should observe a federal holiday honoring the greatest civil rights leader of all time.

Oh, wait; we do. It is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day — a day we close our public schools.

Well, due to our concern about the impact the Confederate soldier statue has in Victoria, that supposedly ‘promotes’ slavery, let’s dedicate a month honoring blacks respective of their suffering through slavery, racism, discrimination, and their fight for civil rights, who, despite all of that, have made, and still make, significant contributions to America.

Oh, wait; we have.

It is Black History Month, which is celebrated every February.

Suppose we have marches and parades in Victoria to recognize the multitude of great achievements blacks continue to make in America, including service at its highest level, the presidency-two terms.

Wait; we have. It is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day annual march in January, and the annual Black History Month parade in February. These events happen every year in our community. I have participated in many of them.

Imagine if Victoria’s university and college got involved with honoring blacks.

They have. It is the annual Black History Month Poster Contest by the University of Houston-Victoria.

A child, who is not black, once created a poster recognizing me for my military service.

I was so moved I cried (sorry, I digressed).

Victoria College regularly recognizes the Juneteenth Holiday, the celebration of freedom from slavery and African American history in Texas, at its Museum of the Coastal Bend.

Listen, those of you who want to remove the Confederate statue from our community from its current location, I appreciate and even respect your concern and the others who agree with you.

Slavery was an inhumane nightmare that disenfranchised, disrespected, and dehumanized beautiful black human beings because of the evil, greed, sinful nature, and selfishness of others.

However, removing the statue will only serve to disrupt and not fine tune the wonderful harmony within our community.

I also offer this from the word of God: John 8:7 (KJV) “ So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (this was the woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus to be stoned). So, I say, let he who is without sin among us remove the first ‘stone’ from the Confederate statue.

I hope my remarks add new perspective on this issue for both sides of the argument.

There is always room for improvement of race relations in Victoria, but when it comes to this issue, I believe we are OK.

We should consider using the Confederate statue as a beacon from our painful past that can now serve as a stark reminder for our community to be better and to do better.

Lt. Col. Retired Vanessa Hicks-Callaway is a longtime resident of Victoria who is very active in this community. She is married to Jason O. Callaway with two sons and currently attends Parkway Church.

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(14) comments

Willie Ellis

Mrs. Hicks-Callaway:

Please do a word search and note the number of times you mentioned the name of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in your article. It is an undeniable attempt to justify not removing a confederate statue by reminding all of how many times we have honored the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There is no moral equivalency between the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a confederate statue. We should all be awoken to that.

City council members choose to run for office because they want to serve. It is their duty to vote and make decisions that affect our community.

More than 100 years ago Victoria’s city leaders made a decision to allow the confederate statue to be erected. They were on the wrong side of history.

Today our city council members have a chance to be on the right side of history – if they chose to do so. It will be their legacy, not yours or mine.

The last paragraph is a familiar talking point and “we are better than this”.

Mary Ann Wenske

Thank you, Vanessa for your commentary. You promote the positive and build on achievements. What a fabulous leader and role model you are for our fellow Americans. I look forward to your future leadership in this community!

Willie Ellis

It is disrespectful to compare the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the legacy of confederate statues, flags and symbols.

The civil rights movement that Dr. King led was moral and non-violent.

In the history of this nation nothing has been more immoral as embracing slavery and white supremacy.

It is time for the mayor and the city council members to be held accountable by voting to remove or not to remove this statue.

Any vote cast in favor of NOT removing the statue is a vote in favor of glorifying slavery and white supremacy.

Vanessa Hicks-Callaway

Hello Mr. Ellis. To compare, according to the dictionary, is to estimate, measure, or note the similarity or dissimilarity between objects or persons. My article does no such thing and based on the volumes of support and compliments I have received since writing it, many others agree with me.

To clarify, my article, albeit subtly, addresses the very false assumption that our community and its leadership are somehow complicit in supporting white supremacy and slavery by allowing a confederate statue to stand.

I then challenge that false assumption with supporting facts that point out the tangible, substantial, and quantifiable effort our community and its leadership have made over the years and continues to make in order to send a very strong message that they do not support these dreadful maladies despite allowing history to serve as a teacher of sorts by allowing statues like the confederate soldier to stand.

I have never disrespected, nor would I ever disrespect the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or his magnificent legacy, or his courageous fight against REAL racism, discrimination, and hatred which ultimately cost him his very life.

What I do disrespect is when people who have lived in, worked in, and raised families in this community for several years all of a sudden allow themselves to be 'told' their lives matter (as if they did not before), that their country is racist (although it is the greatest country in the world), when to get offended, and when to get ‘woke,’ and to march along like mindless drones to the beat of a drum that does nothing but stoke division in once peaceful communities.

That sir, will NEVER be me.

Glenn Wilson

Martin Luther King was mentioned 5 times, once as "the greatest civil rights leader of all time". Thousands of cities in America have a street named after him. Yet with all the respect due and given him for his ideas and accomplishments in the '50's and '60's, his message and example are completely ignored now, even turned upside down by many prominent supposedly black advocacy groups, much to their detriment.

Ray Fox

Thoughtful commentary, Vanessa! As a long-time Victoria resident, you bring a valuable perspective to this community discussion. Thank you for saying it so well!

KIM PICKENS

Vanessa, I have always respected you and your commitment to community. In my research, it is clear that "The Last Stand" was meant to send a message that the ideology of the Confederacy was "immutable". I believe that the ideology of the Confederacy that people of African descent are meant to live in servitude to whites is one born of ignorance and hate. It has no place in our square if we are to truly unify our community. That statue deserves a place where it can be viewed through a lens of historical significance. While there have been wonderful achievements made toward equality for people who are descended from Africans enslaved in this country, it has taken 3 Amendments to the Constitutions and laws enacted state wide and federally to address continued disenfranchisement.

Vanessa Hicks-Callaway

Kim, as I humbly thanked God for the many blessings he’s bestowed upon me as a black woman in America, I happened to glance up at my wall at my Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management, only to then have my eyes fall upon my Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the great Sam Houston (whose statue still and will always stand) State University. Remarkably, this caused me to vaguely recall a few things I learned about the US Constitution-one of the greatest documents ever written by human, yet divinely guided hands, which of course includes the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments that, oh-by-the-way, Republicans were able to get passed in order to mitigate the brutal impact and disenfranchisement of African-Americans by the Democratic Party. This then caused me to remember the oath I swore to the US Constitution, which of course includes the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, as an enlisted Soldier and private in the US Army, and again and again with every promotion as a sergeant and ultimately as a commissioned officer with two combat tours. So, Kim while I appreciate you ‘educating’ me on the US Constitution and black history, I believe my Middle Eastern deployments (resulting in my receipt of a bronze star medal and other awards), during which I witnessed firsthand what real oppression is, and the fact I have been black all 53 years of my life, I now publicly reject your attempt, based on my decent, formal understanding of these issues.

Furthermore, as a Soldier, I recall seeing, with my own eyes, black Africans and Arabs ‘living’ and ‘working’ practically as slaves under tyrannical rule with absolutely no hope. I distinctly remember how the women, who wore Burkas, (a form of dress covering a female’s entire body from head to toe worn publicly by many Muslim women) and the ‘longing’ they had in their stare at me as they struggled to fathom how an American, black-female, could be a US Army officer in charge of men and women of all races. I respectfully think they somehow knew the possibility of them ever having such an opportunity was far from them. I also remember looking into the faces of pure, evil, inmates on Texas Death Row during the time I worked there for nearly two years as a correctional officer. The murder, torture, rape, malice, and other hate-filled crimes including those against children committed by these men were no worse than those of the enemy we fought against in the Middle East. So, I have been exposed to what I consider to be real evil and a sense of supremacy against others that exists among humans and none of it had anything to do with statues.

What I find interesting about this ‘white supremacy’ nonsense currently being pushed daily, hour by hour, and minute by minute, down the throats of African Americans, is the absolute fallacy of the arguments being proposed by so called ‘community leaders,’ who, for the most part, have little to no leadership training or experience. It strikes me as odd that much of this rhetoric is being spewed out by those who themselves have not fully embraced the opportunities offered by this great country and are therefore suffering the terrible consequences of poor decision-making.

My humble advice is for these people to get their own houses in order as so stated in Matthew 7:5 NKJV: “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” All I am trying to say is before these people further destroy, by so called ‘saving’ a city, state, nation, or African Americans, that they get their own houses in order first! I do not need the soft bigotry of condescension, low-expectations, or a pat on the head from a ‘white savior’ or a ‘social justice warrior.’ I am a REAL warrior with a few medals to prove it and I also consider myself to be a Soldier in God’s Army. All African Americans need is to get away from these ‘well-intended’ people and for them to stop trying to distract us with the awful history of racism in America. To do otherwise brings us down to their condescending level. I say just get out of our way and watch us achieve, just like I did by initially working at a carwash in Victoria for barely minimum wage all the way to commanding a unit as an Army officer and by later working as a staffer for the US congress and for a US senator. This is the America we all live and can achieve in-regardless of race, religion, or gender. This is the America I know and the America I will always love.

Brian Vandale

Very well written, thank you

Michael Dominey

Thank you.

Brian Vandale

Thank you Lt. Col. Vanessa Hicks- Callaway. I haven't seen anything about other options, just two take it down or leave it alone. I think it should be left alone and maybe add different ones as well.

Mike Gomez

I read this letter several times and I admit I may have misinterpreted what the author was trying to say but I interpreted it to mean “be grateful for what you got and let’s move on.”

While I may not be all gung ho on the removal of the statue, I am now aware of the circumstances of why and how it was put in the middle of the public square.

In the distant future,people will scratch their heads and say “ knowing the Daughters of the Confederacy and their mission and the words that were said at the dedication “ Why was the statue allowed to remain without a disclaimer in place right next to it?” Since it was an absolutely must, that it remain.

I’ve kept count, not a single person who is pro confederate statue will address the pro white supremacy dedication words. Everything but.

“The statue, which features a nameless soldier, was commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and dedicated in 1912.

“Overwhelmingly, historians agree that these monuments memorialize white supremacy, and we believe that because the people who dedicated these monuments said so,” wrote Laura Mammina, an assistant professor of history at University of Houston-Victoria, in an email. “Those who dedicated Victoria’s monument declared that they believed the United States to be a ‘white man’s country.’ You really can’t get more clear than that.”

https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/premium/petition-calls-for-removal-of-confederate-statue-in-deleon-plaza/article_657a8af8-ab73-11ea-9dec-5bf655b3133f.html

This letter is fodder for people who love to point fingers at one side. The other side.

Plenty of blame to go around Glenn Wilson.Was dispersing a peaceful protest for a photo op straight out of presidential decorum? How about a knee to the neck, was that straight out of the police manual?

Glenn Wilson

Mike -- "Plenty of blame to go around Glenn Wilson..." -- If this refers to my comment about M.L. King what exactly is the connection?

Glenn Wilson

To answer your questions: (1)Was dispersing a peaceful protest for a photo op straight out of presidential decorum? -- If that's what actually happened, no, but Trump doesn't seem be big on presidential decorum. (2)How about a knee to the neck, was that straight out of the police manual? -- I've never read a police manual, have you? I know that a knee to the back of the neck is a common technique used to restrain someone on the ground while the cuffs go on. Nothing wrong with that, but the idea is to get off the position ASAP, not maintain it for 9 minutes as in the George Floyd case.

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