Racist Record Brings Down Airport's Texas Ranger Statue

New book details horrific incidents in the agency's past
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 4, 2020 7:19 PM CDT
Racist Record Brings Down Airport's Texas Ranger Statue
A Phoenix 1 Restoration & Construction crew removes a 12-foot-tall bronze statue of a Texas Ranger, "One Riot, One Ranger," from the main lobby inside Love Field on Thursday in Dallas.   (Juan Figueroa/ The Dallas Morning News via AP)

A published account of brutal and racist chapters in the history of a Texas investigative agency prompted Dallas officials to remove a statue from Love Field’s passenger terminal that honored the agency. The 12-foot-tall bronze statue of a Texas Ranger, called "One Riot, One Ranger," has been a focal point in the terminal since 1963. A new book on the Rangers, Cult of Glory, offered chilling details about dark chapters of the Rangers’ history, the AP reports. The book by former Pulitzer Prize finalist Doug J. Swanson, a longtime reporter for the Dallas Morning News who is now on the University of Pittsburgh faculty, says the statue depicts Capt. Jay Banks. The captain was in charge of a Ranger contingent dispatched in 1957 by then-Gov. Allan Shivers to keep black students from enrolling in Mansfield's high school and a Texarkana community college despite court rulings that should have prevented Shivers from doing so.

Swanson tells the Morning News that "Banks became sort of the face for that because there’s a famous picture of him leaning against a tree in front of Mansfield High School while a black figure hangs in effigy above the school, with Banks making no effort to take it down. And Banks sided with the mobs who were there to keep the black kids out." He later became the face of "a statue that welcomes people to Dallas," he said. Swanson noted the title "One Riot, One Ranger" came from a Ranger's report of a scene at the Grayson County Courthouse in 1930, when a black man stood trial for assaulting a white woman. The mob eventually set fire to the courthouse and roasted the black man alive after he sought refuge in a courthouse safe. Airport spokesman Chris Perry said the statue will be placed in storage for now, with its fate to be decided eventually by the city’s Office of Arts and Culture. (Virginia plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond.)

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