What started Friday as a public State Preservation Board hearing on where to place a controversial Confederate plaque that was recently removed from the Texas Capitol quickly turned into a heated debate over whether the marker should’ve been taken down in the first place.
Two weeks prior, the board voted to remove the “Children of the Confederacy Creed” plaque, which falsely states that the Civil War was “not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery,” from its location near the Capitol rotunda.
The board did not determine a final location for the plaque Friday, but voted in favor of a motion to temporarily store the plaque in the Capitol collection — consisting of artifacts from the Capitol and state history — and allow a 90-day period for public comment on where the plaque should end up.
Many who testified, however, took issue with the fact that the six-member board, chaired by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, voted in favor of removing the plaque — and did so without seeking public testimony.
“That plaque has been there for 60 years. It’s been there through 11 different governors and 28 state legislatures,” said David Roberts, a Montgomery resident who testified before the committee. “Then the [board] decided to take it upon themselves to determine what the proper history portrays and then to take the plaque down with no public comment or no input.
“People like me have ancestors who fought or died in the Civil War. My family didn’t own any slaves. They weren’t fighting for slavery. For us it’s just about input and having some sort of public discourse.”
Others proposed that the plaque be returned to the United Daughters of the Confederacy after the 90-day period of public discussion.
Abbott, along with Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, both Republicans, who serve as co-vice chairs on the preservation board under Abbott, did not come to Friday’s meeting. All three sent top staffers to speak on their behalf.