Wikimedia Commons / Daniel Mayer
Eight Texas Democratic lawmakers, including State Sen. Jose Menéndez of San Antonio, are calling for the removal of all Confederate memorials at the state Capitol.
In a letter to the state House and Senate Administration committees, the group identifies seven items — ranging from a portrait of a Confederate general to Confederate army cannons — that qualify as memorials to the Confederacy, which fought to uphold slavery during the civil war.
The letter also asks the state to rename the Capitol complex's John R. Reagan building, since Reagan was a Texas politician who defended slavery and served in the cabinet of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy.
“Today, we find ourselves at a crossroads — will we situate ourselves on the right side of history by removing these symbols of hostility or will we continue to side with 'tradition' and ignore the ills of our past?” the letter reads. “We, the undersigned, unequivocally move to adopt the former.”
In addition to Menéndez, the letter is signed by state reps Rafael Anchía, Donna Howard, Lina Ortega, Carl Sherman and Shawn Thierry, plus state senators Nathan Johnson and Judith Zaffirini.
In the letter, the lawmakers ask for the formation of a bipartisan working group to review the "artistic, social and historical intent and significance of all honorific memorials and symbols on the Capitol grounds."
Their effort takes place after two years of scrutiny finally led to the January 2019 removal
of a plaque from the Capitol building that honored the Confederate States and falsely stated slavery wasn't the root cause of the Civil War.
This time, however, the lawmakers' plea arrives amid nationwide protests for racial justice that have forced a conversation about public memorials to Confederate heroes, slaveowners and colonizers.
In a phone interview, Menéndez he's hopeful that, given the current environment, he can build wider support for the removal of the remaining memorials scattered through the Capitol.
"Removal of Confederate monuments isn't a bipartisan issue, it's a Texan issue," he said. "I invite all my colleagues to join us."
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