Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo officials are barring people from displaying the Confederate battle flag at official events from now on. The ban included participants at last Saturday’s downtown parade that drew thousands of spectators. One participating group has long displayed the flag during previous parades. A local branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans protested by carrying flagless poles with black streamers. The group, founded in 1896 in Richmond, Va., by descendants of Confederate soldiers, sent out volunteers to distribute Confederate flags to 1,400 spectators, ensuring that the parade resembled an inbred, redneck, backwoods, Ku Klux Klan rally.
Afterward, on the Facebook page for “R.E. Lee Camp 239 Sons of Confederate Veterans,” administrators bragged about polluting the parade: “Most of the crowd loved us, and all went pretty well with only the occasional sarcastic comment,” read a post from Sunday, Jan. 17, the day after the event. “Of course, the media went to great pains to edit and crop their shots to try and not show the flags in the crowd. A couple of the flaggers were hassled by police and parade marshals for getting too close to what they determined to be private property; but conversations with Fort Worth’s finest let [sic] us to believe that they were with us but couldn’t speak out for fear of job reprisal.”
You know who wasn’t with you? People who equate the flag with pro-slavery sentiments. Waving it in public, putting a decal on your truck, or wearing it on a t-shirt are ways of saying, “I support people who fought to own slaves.”
Supporters say the familiar red flag with the blue X and white stars stands for states’ rights, independence, freedom, and preservation of history. Others see it as a fashion statement or a harmless homage to the Dukes of Hazzard. Whatever. If a huge group of people sees the flag as a grand insult, why would you want to flaunt it? The swastika was considered sacred for thousands of years. In the early 20th century, the symbol was thought to be lucky and was often engraved on flammable items such as space heaters as an added safety precaution. And then Hitler came along.
Who among you wants to walk around town waving a swastika flag today? You could explain to each person you meet that it’s really a religious symbol or that it means luck. But why would you want to? If you wear a swastika or a Confederate flag in this day and age, you look like someone who supports racism. If you flew the flag in battle 150 years ago, power to you. If you’re flying it now, you’re just an ass hat.
Sure, Americans enjoy personal freedoms and can display that flag if we wish. Freedom of expression is a wonderful thing. And, wonderfully, Texas Rep. Ramon Romero of Fort Worth didn’t curb his expressions. (Romero rode in the Stock Show parade, took photos of people waving Confederate flags, and posted them on his Facebook page. One photo showed baby carriages adorned with the controversial flags.)
“Hate was front and center today!!” Romero posted shortly after the parade. “What a shame that our city is so full of hate and ignorance that Confederate flags were distributed to Stock Show parade watchers all along the route…! Who gives Confederate flags to kids????! Racists! Our city deserves so much better!! Teachers teach, parents teach, elected officials speak out against this small minority of people that shamed our city today.”
Musicians, Management Still at Odds
The 75 musicians who make up the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra might be moving toward a strike. On Tuesday, the musicians, all represented by the Dallas/Fort Worth Professional Musicians Association voted on whether to authorize a strike. The results, which are unanimous, according to a source, haven’t been released yet, but the musicians and management have been negotiating for seven months without reaching an agreement.
Citing “chronic deficits,” management is asking the musicians to take a pay cut to offset a projected budget shortfall of $650,000 for the current season.
The musicians are willing to accept a one-year pay freeze but are balking at a proposal that would mean a 23-percent loss in salary since 2010 once inflation is taken into account. Rather than see their incomes cut, the musicians are asking management for a financial plan that includes budget growth, not cuts.
At stake is the long-term viability of Fort Worth’s only professional orchestra. If wages are allowed to continue dropping, top talent will look for work elsewhere. No one chooses classical music to get rich, but it’s reasonable for classical musicians in an area as economically vibrant as Fort Worth to avoid continual pay cuts.
To raise public awareness of their plight, the musos recently drafted an open letter to FWSO management. The musicians have been stalking the lobby of Bass Performance Hall before performances, asking concertgoers to sign a petition to endorse the musicians’ position. Though there is no magic number, the musicians have received nearly 2,200 signatures.
But management sees things differently. In a statement on the orchestra’s website, managers describe the musicians’ requests as “extravagant” and unrealistic in light of unforeseen “economic difficulties” like cuts in corporate giving. The musicians, management goes on, are asking for raises in fees that will add a burdensome $4.5 million to the nonprofit’s budget over the next four years.
FWSO principal bassist William Clay believes Fort Worth deserves a world-class orchestra.
Unfortunately, he added, “what we see is a lack of dedication to fundraising and new donor development.”
Until recently, there has been a lot of turnover in orchestra development positions, according to FWSO violist Scott Jessup. The musicians also were underwhelmed by management’s fundraising efforts last North Texas Giving Day, an annual nonprofit fundraising challenge.
Clay and his colleagues are hoping that will soon change, though. The musicians, he said, prefer to focus on concerts than business. All the musicians want, he continued, is for FWSO president and CEO Amy Adkins to present them with a comprehensive fundraising plan that allows for a growing, not shrinking, the budget.
Adkins told Static in an e-mail that she already has a fundraising plan. And, according to her, it’s working.
“The Fort Worth Symphony runs a comprehensive, sophisticated, and yearlong fundraising program executed by an experienced development team with my close involvement,” she said.
Last season, she said her team raised $5.2 million from donors, companies, and foundations, an increase of $300,000 over the previous year.
For now, both sides are entrenched, and there doesn’t seem to be any end to the negotiations.
City Beautifies Toxic Intersection
Fort Worth’s Parks and Community Services Department recently planted a bunch of red bud trees near the intersection of Oakland Boulevard and East 1st Street in East Fort Worth. Red buds are those dainty trees that turn spectacularly red for a few weeks in spring. The trees are expected to beautify the new Trinity Trails trailhead established near Gateway Park. That particular intersection could use a bit of smartening up because, well, it’s quite possibly the most toxic intersection in town. Chesapeake Energy’s wastewater disposal site, the only one currently allowed inside city limits, is just north of the intersection.
Last year, the city allowed many hundreds of old growth oaks and elms to be waylaid to make way for a widening East 1st. Red buds are nice, but they don’t compare to old growth oaks and elms. Still, power to the city and East Fort Worth Inc., a nonprofit economic development group, for trying to beautify that typically neglected part of town. The group vows to plant about 2,000 red buds in the area, including along Randol Mill Road and North Beach Street.
Comments, news tips, opinions? E-mail Weekly editor Anthony Mariani at firstname.lastname@example.org.