Right now, there are three bills moving through the Texas General Assembly that are designed to override community consensus, disenfranchise local citizens and rewrite history:
- SB226 is a “Heritage Law,” like the Virginia legislation that continues to protect Charlottesville’s Confederate statues even after a rash of racist violence. Sen. Pat Fallon’s (R-30) bill would prohibit colleges from removing monuments or renaming facilities, public school districts from changing their name, and every county and municipality from removing any monument older than a few decades. The bill comes after the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, and the recent renaming of several schools named for Confederates, in Dallas.
- HB583: Section 3C of Rep. James White’s (R-19) bill would prevent the removal or alteration of all Confederate monuments and memorials—including street and building names, portraits, statues, etc. Anyone charged with removing a monument would face a fine of up to $1,000 and “confinement in jail for a term of not less than three days and not more than one year.”
- SJR2 would amend the Texas state constitution so that the legislature would have to approve all interpretive content at the Alamo and any state-owned history museum. While this isn’t technically a matter of removing Confederate monuments, it’s disturbing and outrageous that Sen. Bob Hall (R-2) is attempting to hand museum curatorial duties to a bunch of politicians, an idea radically incompatible with accuracy about our racial history.
If these proposed laws pass, efforts to remove monuments to the Confederacy and white supremacy will be halted—which, of course, is the entire point. They are intended to take away the power of local voters and jurisdictions to decide for themselves whether they want to pay homage to those who fought to defend black slavery, oppression and servitude. For all those reasons, a similar law in Alabama was recently ruled unconstitutional by a judge.
Please call your legislators and ask them to oppose SB226, HB583 (at least as long as it has section 3C in it) and SJR2.
For more information on these bills, visit the Texas Legislature website, which allows visitors to review all pending state legislation and its exact status in the legislative process. To find your local legislator and relevant contact information, visit fyi.capitol.texas.gov.
AND WHILE WE HAVE YOU HERE…On January 25, the State Preservation Board held a hearing that allowed 90 days of public comment on where the Confederate plaque removed from the Capitol rotunda should go. Please reach out to the board and tell them 1) not to reinstall the plaque, 2) not to install the plaque somewhere else where someone might think that it’s historically accurate and 3) to use this occasion to hold educational events about slavery, secession, and the “Lost Cause” myth. Email [email protected] OR send snail mail to P.O. Box 13286, Austin, Texas 78711.