Rep. Straus Wants the Misleading Confederate Memorial in State Capitol Gone

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JOHN JORDAN / THE TEXAS TRIBUNE
  • John Jordan / The Texas Tribune
In the month since white supremacist protesters clogged Charlottesville streets, leaving one woman dead and dozens injured, cities across Texas have retired a a remarkable number of statues memorializing Confederate soldiers. In Dallas Thursday, city contractors took down a statue of Robert E. Lee atop a horse. In Austin, University of Texas okay-ed the removal of three statues on campus, depicting men with strong ties to the Confederacy. And, of course, in San Antonio, the city voted 10-1 to remove Travis Park's looming Confederate soldier.

Now, the contentious debate over removing such memorials is headed to the state Capitol building, which is home to a bronze plaque glorifying the Confederate army. Like most Confederate monuments, the plaque was installed in the midst of the U.S. civil rights movement, in 1959. Titled "Children of the Confederate Creed," the memorial's sentiments echo the arguments raised in the past month by protesters who've defended the Confederate legacy.

“We, therefore, pledge ourselves to preserve pure ideals, to honor our veterans, to study and teach the truths of history (one of the most important of which is that the war between the States was not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery) and to always act in a manner that will reflect honor upon our noble and patriotic ancestors," it reads.

House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican representative from San Antonio, says this plaque only perpetuates false narratives about the Confederate War.

"Texans are not well-served by incorrect information about our history,” Straus wrote Tuesday in a letter to the Texas State Preservation Board, the organization in charge of the Capitol property. “Texans should expect to see an accurate depiction of history when they visit their state Capitol.”

Straus urged the board (which he sits on) to remove the plaque "so soon as practicable."

This could be a challenging request, because Gov. Greg "tearing down monuments won't erase our country's past" Abbott joins Straus on the board. However, Abbott may be warming to the idea. The call to remove this plaque initially came from Dallas Rep. Eric Johnson on August 16, four days after the Charlottesville protest. And according to Johnson, Abbott has agreed to meet with him to discuss the memorial's future. Putting Straus' muscle behind the call may help expedite that meeting.

“We have an obligation to all the people we serve to ensure that our history is described correctly, especially when it comes to a subject as painful as slavery,” wrote Straus.

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