A plaque that’s been on display in the Texas State Capitol for decades will finally go down after a unanimous vote from the Texas State Preservation Board.
The plaque in question was put up by the “Children of the Confederacy” organization in 1959. According to the Dallas Morning News, the plaque denied that slavery was the cause of the Confederacy and the impetus behind the Civil War, saying the Confederacy was “not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery.”
Board members who voted to take the plaque down include Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, all of whom are Republicans. Jeff Leach, a Republican state lawmaker, was the one who initially made the motion to remove the plaque. The Morning News reported that Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, and Speaker Bonnen all previously supported removing the plaque due to “historical inaccuracy.”
The Texas State Preservation Board is comprised of six people — the governor, lieutenant governor, house speaker, a member of the Texas House of Representatives, a member of the Texas State Senate, and a member of the public. While the board’s members voted to remove the plaque, no further details were voted on, like when the plaque would be taken down or where the board would keep it after its removal.
Confederate monuments across the country have been targeted for removal by activists since the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, which was carried out by a neo-Confederate trying to instigate a race war. Since then, hundreds of statues and monuments dedicated to remembering the Confederacy have been removed.
While critics of the movement say the monuments were erected to remember the horrors of the Civil War, a graphic from the Southern Poverty Law Center showing the timeline of new Confederate monument constructon suggests that many were built in direct response to peaceful uprisings calling for civil rights as a means of intimidating black activists.
This graphic (via @emayfarris) shows how late most Confederate monuments were put up.
Again, note the timing: Jim Crow & civil rights era. pic.twitter.com/ceDhXxdOD5
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) August 15, 2017
One of the more controversial monuments is “Silent Sam,” a statue that once stood on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Even though the statue — which featured text honoring students who dropped everything to join the Confederate cause during the Civil War — was dedicated with a speech about white supremacy, the school’s chancellor announced a plan in December to preserve it in a new $5 million building staffed with full-time security. Her plan was met with hundreds of student protesters.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.