After several months of discussion with community members, the Gonzales City Council voted at its Jan. 14 meeting to rename the downtown square Independence Square.
The square is commonly known as Confederate Square. Local historians found name was Jail Square prior to the 1835 burning of the city, and, before that, Market Square.
The vote was unanimous with Mayor Connie Kacir, and councilmembers Gary Schroeder (District 1), Tommy Schurig (District 2), Bobby O’Neal (District 3) and Robert Brown (District 4) supporting the change.
The vote only changed the name of the square, located north of the Gonzales County Courthouse at the intersection of North St. Joseph and St. George streets. It did not affect the 40-foot statue erected in 1909 by Chapter 546 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to honor Confederate soldiers in the Civil War.
Prior to the vote, the council held a public hearing, during which no negative feedback was supplied. Public comment included commendation of the council from Edwards Association President and Gonzales County Veterans Service Officer David Tucy, as well as a letter from Quincy Johnson.
Both are members of the subcommittee responsible for the creation of historical interpretive panels highlighting black history in Gonzales. The panels will be added to the square on June 19.
Johnson’s letter, read by Mayor Kacir, requested that the council consider giving the downtown square a new name.
“Currently called ‘Confederate Square,’ originally ‘Market square,’ and I was told recently that it was registered as ‘Jail Square,’” a section of Johnson’s letter read. “I feel all of these names are inappropriate, as they do not represent the diversity of this community, the functionality of the square, nor all the citizens of our community. The square is the center of and thus the heart of our community.”
Only one other suggestion, Freedom Square, was put forth during the discussion by councilman Brown.
“Mr. Johnson’s letter is very compelling,” Brown said. “In fact, it was refreshing, to listen to that letter. One of the things that kept ringing and repeating itself in his letter was freedom. And I think that kind of resonates throughout our whole life as an American, is freedom. Not only does it tie it to Come and Take It, and fighting for our freedom here at a local level. We cherish our freedom as American citizens. It also tied it to freedom, all the way around, and I like the name Independence Square, it’s fantastic, but maybe there’s a possibility of considering Freedom Square?”
As there was already a motion and second on the table for Independence Square and no amended motion, following discussion from Brown and Mayor Kacir, the council voted, making the name change effective on Jan. 14.
Kacir thanked all who had contributed to research and work on this project.
“I first of all want to thank this council, who worked together with our African-American community to seek the resolution, to seek unity, and to come together as one,” Kacir said. “In the midst of political discord across this nation, once again, I feel Gonzales stepped up and we came together. We looked for a solution to the problem, and I couldn’t be more proud of the committee that we had serve.”
The subject appeared before the council in July 2020, put forth by Tucy, who said the square’s name did not reflect the diversity of the community. Tucy said national and local events such as protests for the removal of statues honoring Confederate history, and racial inequality made the present the best time to address the square’s name.
“My very astute 12-year-old granddaughter is visiting this summer, and I would love to show her some of the historical sites in Gonzales and explain to her exactly what they stand for,” Tucy said last year. “But imagine me trying to explain the history of Confederate Square and the Confederate statue from an African-American point of view when it only represents one side of history.
“On the other hand, many white grandfathers would not have a problem explaining the side of history that represents. It makes it difficult to understand how it is ‘our town’ when we’re not represented, and that is the sentiment of Black citizens in the city of Gonzales.”
In the months that followed, presentations of information from Gonzales High School Freshman Peyton Moore and Gonzales Historical Commission Chair Glenda Gordon revealed that there were few accounts of the downtown square — or any square, for that matter— having an officially recognized name other than Jail Square. Moore asked that the council, should it choose to consider officially renaming the square, heavily consider its history.
“As a member of our city's youth, I understand the times that we are going through and the issues we are facing regarding our history,” Moore said in August of 2020. “I also understand how some of our history has been one-sided in the way it's been portrayed. Therefore, I would applaud our town's leadership for holding fast to the history that we have, but also being able to understand that all sides of history need to be told; the good, the bad, the ugly, all of it. So therefore, the youth of our nation as a whole, my reason for addressing is hopefully to keep the history intact.”
“I would like to request that Madam Mayor and City Council be dedicated to portraying the history of what the squares represented.”
The Inquirer solicited additional feedback regarding this decision from the community following the vote, and no one contacted the Inquirer or its staff to submit a comment for publication. However, in the comment section of the Facebook post soliciting such input for this story, many local citizens expressed displeasure with the council’s vote on the name change.
The most common concern was that such a name change is perceived as an attempt to change or revise history.
The public is encouraged and welcomed to share their views. Please see our Letters to the Editor policy.