This is the letter:
September 3, 2017
Edward H. Sebesta
Mayor Mike Rawlings
Mayor and City Council City of Dallas
Dallas City Hall
1500 Marilla St.
Dallas, Texas 75201
Dear Hon. Rawlings:
In your online published memo I see that you have appointed as Confederate monuments task force chair Rev. Frances Cudjoe Waters who in your memo list as a minister of the United Methodist Church (UMC) and who has been a leader and strategist in that denomination. A brief review of Rev. Waters activities show a remarkably talented person and a person with a social conscious and active in the pursuit of social justice.
However, since you brought up Rev. Waters’s leadership role in the UMC as a qualification, I would like Rev. Water’s to speak to the UMC’s history of lending their facilities to neo-Confederate groups, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC.)
I have been writing denominations and individual churches asking them to not lend their facilities and the prestige of their denomination and historical buildings to neo-Confederate groups. After writing St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in 2014 in Richmond, Virginia they decided to disinvite the UDC. (http://richmondfreepress.com/news/2014/nov/07/confederates-hold-service-downtown-church/).
St. Paul’s later decided to give up the Confederacy. This was the church which both Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis attended during the Civil War. (http://www.richmond.com/news/local/city-of-richmond/article_fda4f734-e732-5c7f-bbe3-5f66f1f09cb3.html)
However, the UMC record on this is very poor. Despite extensive correspondence to individual hosting churches, UMC bishops, and the national leadership the record has been a refusal to engage the issue. UMC churches continue to lend their facilities to the UDC. I enclose a package documenting the UDC activities at UMC churches.
I enclose some documentation about the SCV and the UDC. The SCV documentation was written up a dossier published at Black Commentator, (http://www.blackcommentator.com/526/526_confederacy_sebesta_guest_share.htm), and I enclose three articles from UDC Magazine. One UDC magazine argues that the 14th Amendment was a mistake; another is about “shrine to the Red Shirts,” a violent white terroristic group in 1876 in South Carolina, and yet another recommends the pro-Klan book, “Southern by the Grace of God,” to be given to children as a “treasure.” I enclose a short article on these materials published in the Dallas Morning News, which provides more information about this book. (https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/08/17/confederate-heritage-root-recent-tragedies-troubles)
Incidentally these groups often come with sad, sad faces talking nostalgic memory. Everyone might well consider these materials while they are talking to the city council and to the task force.
I have no idea if Rev. Waters knows of this UMC activity much less endorses it. I suspect that Rev. Waters probably is entirely unaware of this activity and very likely would be very much dismayed to learn of it.
However, Rev. Waters is tasked to deal with the difficult issues of historical memory in Dallas. I think it would be instructive to know Rev. Waters’s thoughts regarding the UMC enabling of neo-Confederate groups.
Edward H. Sebesta
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