The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board is once again considering whether to approve specialty license plates displaying the Confederate battle flag. The proposal has proved to be a hot button issue. Nineteen state representatives have sent a letter to the TxDMV expressing their opposition. Representative Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) says he’s deeply troubled by the proposal.
“It couldn’t be clearer to most people of color that the Confederate flag symbolism is reprehensible and is a reminder of a period in history that while we need to remember it, we don’t need to glorify it and for the State of Texas to lend any credibility to this symbolism is totally inappropriate,” Burnam told KUT News.
Burnam says if the plates are approved he would consider litigation to try to stop them from showing up on Texas vehicles. The Texas Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans has been pushing for the plates for about two years. Ray James is a current member of the group, and was the Texas division commander when the group originally requested the plates.
He says, for their group, these plates aren’t about racism or hate, but rather honoring the state’s heritage.
“We’ve used this flag for honorable purposes since 1896 to recognize and honor the veterans and it’s our logo and we believe that we have the right to have our logo on that license plate to honor those veterans," James said.
If the plates are approved, the group would get some of the proceeds and James says they would use the money to preserve documents and for commemorations such as grave markers in cemeteries.
Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) signed on to Burnam's letter to the TxDMV and sent his own. He told KUT the proposal is offensive and he takes it personally.
"The symbol of the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of forced slavery in a war over keeping my ancestors in chains," Coleman said.
Some other states have already approved Sons of Confederate Veterans plates. Others are in the process. The DMV is scheduled to reconsider the Texas plates next month at the earliest. An April vote ended in a 4-4 tie, because the board’s ninth member was not present. Governor Rick Perry appoints members to the DMV Board. He recently appointed the newest member in August.
The letter from the nineteen state representatives to the TxDMV can be viewed here.