Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has requested the removal of a Civil War plaque in the Texas State Capitol. The plaque was erected by the Children of the Confederacy on Aug. 7, 1959 during the Civil Rights era.
The call for the removal of the plaque stems from a concern of retaining historical accuracy.
In a letter to the State Preservation board, Straus wrote, “This is not accurate, and Texans are not well-served by incorrect information about our history.”
Straus added, “Confederate monuments and plaques are understandably important to many Texans” but stressed the importance that these monuments should be “accurate and appropriate.”
The removal of the plaque has received bipartisan support. State Rep. Eric Johnson is pleased Straus has appealed to the State Preservation Board.
“I am confident that it will come down soon,” Johnson said.
Angela Murphy, chair of the history department at Texas State, specializes in mid-19th century U.S. social history and has a particular interest in issues of race and ethnicity and in the social reform movements of the era. Murphy believes removing this plaque is a completely appropriate thing to do, and the removal would be promoting historical accuracy.
“Among almost every historian that writes about the Civil War, there is a general consensus that slavery was absolutely at the center of the war, and there are a lot of monuments that try to assert otherwise,” Murphy said. “That is misleading history, and it has no place being up there in this day and age.”
Murphy said plaques and monuments that express history and preservation is important but in appropriate spaces.
“We don’t want to erase the fact that we erected these statues and that we had these ideas,” said Murphey. “That’s history in and of itself. But I think that what a lot of people have proposed is to take these statues and put them in a museum and say this is how people were interpreting history for a while. But don’t put them out there as memorials.”
Kerry Traore, journalism sophomore and Hip Hop Congress member, supports Straus’ call to remove the plaque.
“I believe that the plaque should be removed, even if they were going to put it back up later with accurate information,” Traore said. “I feel like if we’re going to remember history, whether it be the good or the bad, it should be accurate. Because we all know that slavery was an underlying cause of the Civil War, and the plaque was put up in a manner of disrespect towards the Civil Rights movement. It should be taken down. Why would we teach new generations the wrong information?”
Julian Davis, marketing sophomore and member of Hip Hop Congress, expressed a similar concern to the removal of Confederate plaques and monuments around the country.
“It definitely needs to be in a museum, because we aren’t trying to cover it up,” Davis said. “We need to make sure that people know that the Civil War happened, but I don’t think that it should be out in the public like we are proud of it.”
Straus’ call for the plaque’s removal is part of a much larger conversation about how Americans interpret and depict history involving Confederate monuments. After the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, which began as a protest to defend a Robert E. Lee statue, Confederate monuments around Texas have quickly come down. The University of Texas at Austin has removed three Confederate monuments, and a Robert E. Lee monument has been removed from Turtle Creek in Dallas.