Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT
A plaque honoring the Confederate States of America in the Texas Capitol could come down Friday with a decision from the Texas State Preservation Board.
The board is meeting at 10:30 a.m. to discuss removing the plaque, which was installed near the Capitol rotunda in 1959.
It came under scrutiny in 2017, when Dallas state Rep. Eric Johnson called for its removal because it says slavery wasn’t an underlying cause of the Civil War. The plaque, which features the so-called creed of the group Children of the Confederacy, also claims the Civil War was not a rebellion.
“The … plaque has no rightful place in the Texas Capitol,” Johnson wrote in a letter to the Texas State Preservation Board, which manages the Capitol. “The plaque is not historically accurate in the slightest, to which any legitimate, peer-reviewed Civil War historian will attest.”
— Eric Johnson (@JohnsonForTexas) August 17, 2017
Johnson’s campaign to remove the memorial garnered bipartisan support from lawmakers – including then-House Speaker Joe Straus – and he even met with Gov. Greg Abbott to discuss its removal in October 2017. Abbott has since suggested that lawmakers should take action to remove the plaque. Abbott is a member of the State Preservation Board, along with Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
In a November opinion, Attorney General Ken Paxton said lawmakers had the authority to remove the plaque, as the resolution that authorized its installation on behalf of Children of the Confederacy didn’t prevent lawmakers from removing or relocating it. The resolution does say the state should “determine the specific place of honor which this worthy plaque shall occupy.”
Those opposing the plaque’s removal say doing so would erase Texas’ history. Misourri-based Conservative Response Team says it’s launching a barrage of 100,000 robocalls targeting lawmakers to save the plaque.
It should be noted, Texas’ declaration of secession in February 1861 explicitly cites slavery – and the desire to continue practicing slavery – as a reason to leave the United States, according to the Journal of the Secession Convention of Texas:
[Texas] was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery–the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits–a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.
In November, the Texas State Board of Education voted to amend its curriculum to reflect that slavery played a “central role” in the Civil War.