Calls are growing to remove a plaque from the rotunda of the Texas capitol that says the Civil War was 'not a rebellion' and was not fought to sustain slavery, after the Texas Attorney General ruled that an act of the Legislature is not needed to remove the 'Children of the Confederacy Creed,' News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Attorney General Ken Paxton says either the Texas State Preservation Board, which is chaired by Gov. Greg Abbott and is authorized to "adopt rules concerning the [Capitol] buildings, their contents, and their grounds," is allowed by laws to remove the Children of the Confederacy Creed, which has been at the center of the recent re-evaluation of the role of Confederate related memorials in Texas.
Louis Malfaro of the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers says the plaque should come down immediately, without any action by the Legislature.
"I think there is no question about its historical inaccuracies," he said. "I don't think it should be handing in the Capitol, period."
The plaque was put up in 1959, as the Civil Rights movement encompassed the Old Confederacy and began raising questions about the stated reasons the Southern states gave for fighting the Civil War:
Children of the Confederacy Creed
Because we desire to perpetuate, in love and honor, the heroic deeds of those who enlisted in the Confederate Army, and upheld its flag through four years of war, we, the children of the South, have united in an organization called "Children of the Confederacy," in which our strength, enthusiasm, and love of justice can exert its influence. 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.
Erected by Texas Division Children of the Confederacy
August 7, 1959
Gov. Abbott has said that "the Legislature put it there, it should be up to the Legislature to take it down."
But State Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), who, as the Speaker of the House is also a member of the TSPB, says the plaque should come down immediately. He has said in the past that he would like to see the plaque removed during his term as Speaker, which will end when the 2019 House elects a new Speaker in early January. He has said that the plaque 'lies about Texas history.
"Last year, I wrote my fellow members of the State Preservation Board to call for action, but none has been taken. I continue to hope the governor will call a meeting of the board to take this up. The Preservation Board should use the authority that state law plainly gives us and move this plaque out of the Capitol — not because it mentions the Confederacy or Civil War, but because it describes those events in terms that are historically and morally wrong," he said in a column in the Dallas Morning News.
Straus points out that the language about the 'underlying cause of the Civil War not being to sustain slavery' has been removed from the protocols of other heritage organizations over the past decade,
He also pointed out that the plaque was moved in the 1990s to another location in the rotunda by the TSPB.
Straus says he understands the concerns that some people have that a 'slippery slope' will lead to the expunging of the names of slave holders from the Texas historic record.
A tongue-in-cheek report earlier this year even floating the possibility of changing the name of the City of Austin, because Stephen F. Austin owned slaves and supported slavery.So far, no meeting of the TSPB has been set to consider the action.
Paxton's opinion also said that the Texas Historical Society can also remove the plaque, or it can be done by a vote of the Legislature.
State Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) has already submitted a formal request for the plaque to be removed.