AUSTIN — Legislation that would have removed monuments and artwork around the Texas Capitol that both honors the confederacy and ended the state holiday celebrating the South’s role in the Civil War appears to be heading nowhere in the session’s final two weeks. “They’re dead,” Democratic state Rep. Rafael […]
AUSTIN — Legislation that would have removed monuments and artwork around the Texas Capitol that both honors the confederacy and ended the state holiday celebrating the South's role in the Civil War appears to be heading nowhere in the session's final two weeks.
"They're dead," Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas said Monday. "There's not enough time left."
Anchia filed one of about 10 bills seeking to push back against the glorification of the Civil War, which was rooted in the efforts by southern states' desire to keep the institution of slavery. Anchia's House Bill 1186 was the only one to receive a hearing in committee. The others were never considered.
"We have been unable to confront symbols on the Capitol grounds that glorify traitors and secessionists," he said.
The legislation echoes several movements in many Texas cities and in several states that attempts to move away from the so-called myth of "the Lost Cause" that sought to portray the rebellion from 1861 to 1865 as a heroic defense of states' rights.
David Wylie, a member of the Texas Republican Party's governing board, said during the hearing on Anchia's bill that such efforts were an attempt "to rewrite Texas history."
"This calls for the removal of things that remind people of where we've been, what we stood for and what makes Texas the greatest of all places to live," Wylie said.
Tami Hurley, a Tyler resident and the president of the Texas chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, said the monuments outside the Capitol and several piece of artwork inside are priceless. And, she added, removing them would cost Texas taxpayers an estimated $300,000.
"They were worthy of Texas' proud history and show a piece of Texas' culture on and around our great state Capitol." Hurley said.
State Rep. Jarvis Johnson, a Houston Democrat who filed legislation that would abolish Confederate Heroes Day, said defenders of Civil War iconography as historic touchstones for many Texans ignore what he called the symbols' racist roots.
"There's also a constituency of people that says we don't need it anymore because it sends the wrong message, because it conjures up visions of yesteryear that have been very hurtful to throngs of people that have had to go through it," said Johnson.
He also questioned why most of the bills were not even given a hearing. The session ends May 31, and bills still stuck in committee are likely doomed.
"We didn't even have a dialogue and that's what this body is all about," Johnson said of the Legislature. "It's about dialogue. It's about fleshing out ideas, testing the limits on where this state is now. Not where it was."
John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network in Austin. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @JohnnieMo.