DENTON (CBS11) – In a long and sometimes lonely fight, Willie Hudspeth says he’s been protesting the memorial to Confederate soldiers in Denton County’s courthouse square for 17 years.
“It faces to the South. It’s elevated so you walk under it like you’re worshipping it.”
It is a reminder, he says, of segregation and racism.
“They lock doors when I pass by. Now. Today. They still do this,” he said.
So, back in 2000, he says, he started asking Denton County Commissioners to remove it.
“And they would not do it,” he said.
His ongoing protest isn’t always popular. Two years ago, a man showed up with a rifle to argue with him.
“Why is this just now a big deal? Why weren’t you out here a month ago?” the man asks in a video posted to YouTube by local journalist, Julian Gill.
“Since 2000, I’ve been out here!” Hudspeth responds to the man.
There’s also the occasional unfriendly greeting.
“They’ll drive by and shake their fist at me and curse at me,” he said.
Hudspeth doesn’t blame anyone for getting angry, though.
“Because I was like that. I was a member of the Black Panther party in my high school years,” he said, recalling a time when he was filled with anger.
The years have changed him.
“I’ve had to change my rhetoric,” he said.
He says he’s learned to seek middle ground.
Now, instead of fighting to remove the Confederate soldiers’ memorial, he’s fighting to add a new one to the courthouse square honoring Denton’s black history.
He hopes it’s a goal everyone can embrace.
Hudspeth plans to protest at the square every Sunday at 6:00 p.m. He expects others to join him and focus on removal. He says, he’s sticking to his goal of shining light on the town’s black ancestry.
Denton County Commissioners contacted for this story have not responded.
Hudspeth’s complaints did convince commissioners years ago to add a plaque stating, in part, that all men are created equal.
Because the courthouse square is a designated state and federal landmark, the Texas Historical Commission would have to approve any changes. The commission says the county has not proposed any.
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