Texas observes Confederate Heroes Day amid growing debate
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas on Friday again observed Confederate Heroes Day as a state holiday after recent failed attempts to change the name and avoid occasional calendar conflicts with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
It was the 45th anniversary of Texas observing the holiday, and at least eight other states have similar holidays that remember Confederate soldiers. But this year in particular follows heightened protests and criticism across the country over Confederate symbols.
Last fall, the University of Texas abruptly removed campus Confederate statues in the middle of the night following a deadly clash during a white nationalist rally in Virginia. Robert E. Lee’s name and statue was also removed from a park in Dallas.
Nearly a dozen Confederate monuments and markers remain around the Texas Capitol. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said that “tearing down monuments won’t erase our nation’s past.” But in October he met with state Rep. Eric Johnson, a black lawmaker from Dallas, who has called for the removal of one plaque that rejects slavery as an underlying cause of the Civil War.
Abbott has since asked a state board to study the plaque, which was installed in 1959 and is titled “Children of the Confederacy Creed.”
Texas started Confederate Heroes Day in 1973. A bill filed by Democrats in 2015 would have renamed the holiday Civil War Remembrance Day and moved it to May so as to not occasionally conflict with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The proposal died in committee without a vote.
Georgia in 2015 renamed its Confederate holidays as simply “state holiday.”