The Texas Tribune
Following more than a year of complaints from elected officials of all political stripes, a state board that oversees the Texas Capitol grounds voted unanimously Friday to remove a controversial Confederate plaque that falsely asserts that the Civil War was “not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery.”
The decision comes more than a month after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who chairs the six-member State Preservation Board, called for it in a letter to Executive Director Rod Welsh.
The Children of the Confederacy Creed plaque was removed Saturday from the wall where it has been on display for 60 years.
Since August 2017, state Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, has led a crusade to get rid of the plaque, which was erected in 1959. He has said that the plaque “is not historically accurate in the slightest, to which any legitimate, peer-reviewed Civil War historian will attest.”
In the months leading up to the plaque’s removal, Johnson met with Abbott, solicited an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and sent multiple letters to the Texas State Preservation Board staff and governing board members.
Leading up to the vote, several prominent state leaders echoed Johnson’s calls for the plaque’s removal, including Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.
Texas House speaker Dennis Bonnen and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, both Republicans, serve as co-vice chairs on the preservation board under Abbott.
Momentum for removing the plaque has picked up steam in recent weeks. Bonnen, the new House speaker, previously called for its removal, saying the plaque was “historically inaccurate.”
And in perhaps the most explicit call from a statewide official yet, Land Commissioner George P. Bush tweeted that “these displays belong in museums, not our state capitol.”
Republican state Rep. Jeff Leach of Plano, who was tapped by Bonnen to sit on the board Thursday, has also spoken in favor of the plaque’s removal.
It’s not immediately clear where the plaque will go next or when it will be removed. A spokesman for the board said details are still being worked out. The motion put forth by Leach Friday, which lawmakers approved, will remove the plaque “from its current location at the Capitol.”
“If I had a sledgehammer in my office, I’d go up there right now and remove it,” Leach said. “But I’m told that’s not necessary as it will be removed very soon.”
In a statement after Friday’s vote, Johnson said he was glad the board voted unanimously to remove the plaque but was displeased it was ever posted.
“While I’m glad the State Preservation Board voted to remove the Children of the Confederacy Creed plaque from the Texas Capitol, none of us in state government should be high-fiving each other or patting ourselves on the back today. The plaque should never have been put up by the Legislature in the first place, and it certainly shouldn’t have taken 60 years to remove it. And that’s on Republicans and Democrats alike, to be perfectly honest,” Johnson stated.
Robyn H. Jimenez/The Dallas Examiner contributed to this report.
Disclosure: The State Preservation Board has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism.
This article was first published at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/01/11/texas-confederate-plaque-vote-greg-abbott-dan-patrick by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.