From the outside in: What visitors think of Austin's Confederate monuments

There are dozens of Confederate-based schools, streets and statues remaining in Central Texas, and the discussion to change some is already underway.

AUSTIN - Just hours after University of Texas President Greg Fenves ordered the relocation of four Confederate monuments on campus, KVUE's Jason Puckett stopped by the still standing monument outside the State Capitol.

In a happenstance of chance, all the individuals Jason stopped were visiting from other states - giving him an outsiders view on the ongoing debate.

"If you're gonna have them," California resident Kayla Hewitt said of the monuments, "then you should have them be historically honest. I think a lot of them don't portray the Confederacy in an honest light."

Hewitt, who was visiting her mother in Austin, acknowledged that there might be historical significance to the statue but thinks it may be misdirected.

"We should focus it on people who lost their lives or people who were really affected by this issue - like slaves," she said. "I think a museum is a better setting. What a lot of people have argued for is keeping that statue due to the historical significance and, in that case, put them in a museum where people can look at them and look in the context of history."

Incoming UT student and Hawaii native, Emir Mirza agreed. 

"I think it's a good idea," he said about UT's choice to relocate the monuments. "Me, being of color, well it was just kind of scary before."

Emir was in Austin with his brother Omar, who was glad to see the change before his brother started school.

"It's probably the best thing," Omar said. "You have the option to go see the statues where they are, but when they're in front of the capitol, people pass by every day and it's almost like you're forced to see it."

Carlisle Toussaint was visiting Austin from New York City, he said he "understands" the removal of some statues and the idea of having them as a "memorial".

"I understand having some memorial, marking the history, but don't put it as something sacred," he said.

Chicago native Jason Rosenberg also agreed with the museum idea but also believed the statues may not have needed to be moved.

"I'm a little torn," he said. "You've had many decades to do this in the past...and these men were living the best that they knew at the time. Surely the curse of this country for many years was slavery. That was the curse of this country, and it's wrong. Yet I'm really personally torn about it."

He added that his moral conflict came from knowing the history. 

"Personally, if it were me, I would leave them up," he said. "I would leave them up just as a 'for good or bad,' in remembrance of the citizens of this State and what they did. But do it all with the understanding and acknowledgment that slavery was wrong."

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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