Johnson pushes to remove Confederate plaque at Capitol
ROBYN H. JIMENEZ | 8/28/2017, 8:04 a.m.
The Dallas Examiner
Just 40 steps from Rep. Eric Johnson’s new office in the Capitol in Austin is a 1959 mounted Children of the Confederacy Creed plaque.
On Aug. 16, he wrote an official letter to Rod Welsh, executive director of the State Preservation Board, noting the words on the plaque and that it had no rightful place in the Texas Capitol.
“The plaque is not historically accurate in the slightest, to which any legitimate, peer-reviewed Civil War historian will attest. The secession documents of the State of Texas, whose legitimacy are not in question, flatly contradict the claim in the plaque that sustaining slavery was not an underlying cause of the Civil War,” Johnson wrote, calling the inscription “propaganda” and requesting that the commemoration be removed.
Stating that he couldn’t think of a better time than now, Johnson cited the events that recently took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a man drove into a crowd of anti-White supremacist protesters who went head-to-head against groups of White supremacists, killing one woman and wounding several others.
“My reasoning is simple: Our Texas Capitol Complex should only honor those who exemplify the values that we extol as Texans. The Confederacy exemplified treason against the United States.”
He went on to say that Texans do not extol treason or White supremacy values and should not honor the Confederacy with monuments in or around the greatest shrine to the values of its people, the Texas Capitol.
He closed by asking Welsh to request a meeting with the elected members of the State Preservation Board on his behalf to discuss the removal of all tributes and markers honoring the Confederacy.
He copied Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and House Administration Chairman Charlie Geren on the letter.
Walsh responded on Aug. 18, stating that he understood and appreciated Johnson’s concerns regarding the plaque and has initiated a review.
“Monuments and Capitol Historical Artifacts are placed inside the Capitol or on its grounds after a deliberative process. We are reviewing all applicable state law regarding your inquiry in order to understand every aspect of the issue,” he affirmed in his response.
Abbott also responded promptly, releasing a letter stating his opposition to removing Confederate plaques and monuments, according to Johnson.
In a separate statement, Abbott said that removing Confederate monuments would not erase the past or advance the nation’s future.
Still, because the governor had not acknowledged the inaccuracies of the plaque, he was hopeful that he would eventually meet with him.
At the same time, Patrick may be among the least of his supporters, having criticized the University of Texas at Austin for removing its Confederate monuments Sunday night.
Johnson stated that Straus also released a response to his letter, stating that he would like to see the State Preservation Board “review the accuracy of signs and monuments around the Capitol.”
“I believe Speaker Straus promised to hold meetings on this very same topic back in 2015, and not a single meeting was ever held. Even if Speaker Straus kept his promise this time, a review of all the signs and monuments around the Capitol – as I don’t believe he limited his proposed review to the Capitol’s Confederate iconography – could take years,” Johnson said.
For now, with no definitive answers, it’s become a waiting game – but still a worthwhile effort.
“At the end of the day, this is simply a matter of respect: respect for the truth and respect for the people who are hurt every time they have to read these untruths on the walls of their Texas Capitol.”