Dallas Airport Removes Texas Ranger Symbol. Here’s Why That Matters to Mexicans in Texas.


Image via screengrab

By Cindy Casares

June 23, 2020

As more symbols of oppression are coming down around the country, a Texas Ranger statue was quietly removed from Dallas Airport. Here’s what we know.

TEXAS — On June 4th, Dallas Love Field Airport authorities quietly removed a Texas Ranger statue from the main lobby. The 12-foot tall, bronze statue by San Antonio-based artist Waldine Amanda Tauch was modeled on former Texas Ranger Captain E.J. “Jay” Banks who died in 1987. Banks gained some notoriety in 1956 when he was photographed by journalists as he led Texas Ranger Company B in Dallas to carry out orders from then-governor Allan Shiver to block federally mandated racial integration of two Texas public schools.

The statue is entitled, “One Riot, One Ranger,” a reference to a famous claim that it only takes one Texas Ranger to quell one riot. According to his obituary, it was also the caption that appeared underneath Banks’ photo in a Mansfield integration dispute story in Time Magazine.

The statue has been at Love Field since it was donated in 1963 and was prominently featured in the main lobby of the airport since 2013. In 2019, plans to move it to baggage claim to make room for Dallas’ only statue of a woman — the late, pioneering civil rights lawyer Adelfa Callejo — were suddenly tabled. But when an excerpt from a new book, Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History Of the Texas Rangers, by former Dallas Morning News investigative reporter and editor Doug J. Swanson, was published in D Magazine earlier this month, “One Riot, One Ranger” was suddenly removed and a statement was published on the airport’s Facebook page.

In light of a recently published excerpt from a forthcoming book and image of the model for the Texas Ranger sculpture that shows flippancy toward racial insensitivity, Dallas Love Field and the Office of Arts and Culture have removed the statue of the Texas Ranger from its current location and placed it in storage until a broader community dialogue can take place.

The statement refers to an image in Swanson’s book taken by reporters in 1956 during segregation riots in Mansfield, Texas. It shows Banks reclining against a tree while a black figure in effigy hangs above the front door of Mansfield High School. Another image that appeared in Life Magazine that year shows Banks towering over a black, female student at Texarkana Community College. He is flanked by white protestors, one of whom holds a sign that says, “Niggers, Stay Out!!

What Does This Mean for Latinos?

For Mexicans in Texas, the Texas Ranger statue symbolizes an even darker era in the early twentieth century when the Rangers were sanctioned by the state to kill Texas Mexicans with impunity.

Historians have called the massacres that occurred in Texas between 1910 and 1920 some of the worst state-sanctioned racial violence in U.S. history.

Estimates by historians from the 1930’s to today range from several hundred to five thousand people of Mexican-descent killed by the Texas Rangers and other white, Texas vigilantes under full sanction of the U.S. and Texas governments.

In 2016, Texas scholars created a project called Refusing to Forget to raise awareness about this well-documented part of United States history that goes unmentioned in schools. From the website:

Far from being surreptitious, the violence was welcomed, celebrated, and even instigated at the highest levels of society and government. As thousands fled to Mexico and decapitated bodies floated down the Rio Grande, one Texas paper spoke of “a serious surplus population that needs eliminating.” Prominent politicians proposed putting all those of Mexican descent into “concentration camps” – and killing any who refused.


Such racially motivated killing began when large numbers of white American farmers from the Midwest began making their way to South Texas thanks to the advent of a new rail system.

“Inhabitants in the 19th century included land-owning families of Mexican descent who wielded economic and political power,” says an exhibit at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin called, Life and Death on the Border 1910-1920. “An influx of Anglo settlers, speculators, and developers, using unscrupulous and often illegal tactics, displaced original land owners.”

The Mexican revolution unfolding simultaneously across the border laid the groundwork for white politicians to cast people of Mexican descent as dangerous terrorists. The U.S. and Texas governments sent increasing numbers of armed units in the form of U.S. Cavalry and the Texas Rangers. The Ranger force was expanded from seventy-three to over one hundred and thirty.

The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum says Texas created so many new Ranger positions so quickly that many of them were not well trained. The stage was set for a violent and far-reaching act of white retaliation that spanned a decade.

In 1919, Texas State Representative J.T. Canales of Brownsville, (the only Latino member of the Texas Legislature), managed to initiate a legislative investigation into the atrocities. The testimonies that followed during weeks of hearings were deemed so explosive that the Legislature refused to publish transcripts until the 1970s. They’ve since been digitized and two volumes are available to read online.

Today the Texas Ranger Division is a major division within the Texas Department of Public Safety with lead criminal investigative responsibility for, among other things, public corruption and public integrity investigations, officer-involved shooting investigations, and border security operations.




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