Perry Once Defended Confederate Symbols

AUSTIN (AP) – Eleven years ago, when the NAACP stepped up a campaign to remove the Confederate battle flag from statehouses and other government buildings across the South, it found an opponent in Rick Perry.

Texas had a pair of bronze plaques with symbols of the Confederacy displayed in its state Supreme Court building. Perry, then lieutenant governor, said they should stay put, arguing that Texans “should never forget our history.”

It’s a position Perry has taken consistently when the legacy of the Civil War has been raised, as have officials in many of the other former Confederate states. But while defense of Confederate symbols and Southern institutions can still be good politics below the Mason-Dixon line, the subject can appear in a different light when officials seek national office.

For Perry, now Texas governor for 11 years and in the top tier of Republican presidential candidates, a racial issue is already dogging him.

He took criticism over the weekend for a rock outside the Texas hunting camp his family once leased that had the name Niggerhead painted on it. Perry’s campaign says the governor’s father painted over the rock to cover the name soon after he began leasing the site in the early 1980s and says the Perry family never controlled, owned or managed the property. But rival Herman Cain, the only black Republican in the race, says the rock symbolizes Perry’s insensitivity to race.

A related issue may rise this fall when Texas decides whether to allow specialty license plates featuring the Confederate flag. The plates have been requested by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a nonprofit organization Perry has supported over the years. A state board he appointed will decide.

The NAACP says its initiative against “glorification” of slave-state symbols remains ongoing. “The romanticism around the Old South,” said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau. “It’s a view of history that ignores how racism became a tool to maintain a system of supremacy and dominance.”

Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner did not return messages seeking comment on the matter. But Granvel Block, the Texas Division commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said the organization appreciated Perry’s position on such issues.

“I would give him high praise for saying it,” Block said. “Honoring your ancestors, it’s something that the Bible teaches.”

The Confederate battle flag has been chief target for the NAACP. The organization called for a boycott of South Carolina in 2000 for flying the banner over its statehouse. The state moved the flag to a capitol memorial. In 2003, Georgia replaced its state flag, which included the Confederate battle standard, with one that combined other elements from previous state flags. Other institutions have scaled back their displays of Confederate heritage. The University of Mississippi retired Colonel Rebel as its on-field mascot.

In January 2000 the NAACP asked Texas to remove the Confederate battle flag from plaques in the entryway of a building housing the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, saying it undermined the notion of judicial equality. One of the 11-inch by 20-inch bronze plaques featured the seal of the Confederacy and the other the image of the battle flag and quotations from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Perry wrote to the Sons of Confederate Veterans in March 2000 that, “although this is an emotional issue, I want you to know that I oppose efforts to remove Confederate monuments, plaques and memorials from public property.”

“I also believe that communities should decide whether statues or other memorials are appropriate for their community,” Perry wrote in the letter, one of several obtained by The Associated Press under a public information request. “I believe that Texans should remember the past and learn from it.”

He added, “We should never forget our history, but dwelling on the 19th century takes needed attention away from our future in the 21st century.”

Perry elaborated publically on the issue, saying, “I think you’ve got a slippery slope when you start saying we’re going to start taking down every plaque or monument.”

He wasn’t the only prominent Texan defending the plaques. Then-Gov. George W. Bush, himself running for president, initially said they should remain but then reversed himself and authorized the state’s General Services Commission to replace the plaques with new ones saying equal justice is available to all Texans “regardless of race, creed or color.”

The floor of the Texas Capitol’s rotunda still bears the seal of the Confederacy, and statues on the grounds memorialize Lee and Confederate soldiers. But civil rights organizations consider the battle flag the most objectionable symbol.

Public officials in Texas, as well as in the other Southern states, are called upon periodically to honor Confederate causes because related organizations observe its anniversaries. Block said the Sons of Confederate Veterans was founded in 1896 and has 2,500 members statewide. Also active is the Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

In a 2005 letter, Perry welcomed attendees of a benefit hosted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “By learning about the past,” he wrote, “we honor our ancestors’ memories and contributions, and appreciate the people and events that preceded the present.” Perry’s great-great-grandfather David H. Hamilton fought at Gettysburg with the First Texas Infantry.

Two years later, Perry issued a “Message from the Governor” honoring Lawrence Sullivan “Sul” Ross on what would have been his 169th birthday. He noted Ross’ service as a Confederate brigadier general, two-time Texas governor and president of what became Texas A&M University, calling him “one of the greats on whose shoulders our modern day Texas rests.” The Sons of Confederate Veterans maintains a college scholarship fund in Ross’ honor — despite accusations that Ross was behind the murder of black prisoners of war in Mississippi.

Today, Block’s organization wants to use the Confederate flag license plate to raise money to pay for markers on Confederate soldiers’ graves. “I know that to some people it’s an issue,” he said. “But our purpose is to honor our ancestors and to educate the public on the true cause of the war.”

The state Department of Motor Vehicles board tied 4-4 in an April vote because one of its members, Ramsay Gillman of Houston, was absent. Gillman then died and Perry chose a new appointee, Raymond Palacios Jr. of El Paso.

Palacios declined to comment on the issue. Members won’t vote on the plate until at least Nov. 9. A similar request from the Sons of Confederate Veterans was denied two years ago, but the criteria have been expanded, opening the door for approval this time. Texas has approved 276 specialty plates.

Perry hasn’t commented. “This is a matter before the board,” said Lucy Nashed, a governor’s office spokeswoman.

Matt Glazer, executive director of Progress, Texas, a left-leaning advocacy group, said of Block’s organization: “If they want to put a sticker on their car, or fly the Confederate flag at their home or business, that’s up to them. But the state itself should not associate itself with this racist relic.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. darrell says:

    first, the NAACP is the most racist organization in the country.
    second, blacks need to get over it. most dont know the history of slavery only what groups like the NAACP feed them as propaganda.
    Perry as many millions of other americans support showing symbols of our history. symbols good and bad are there as reminders of mistakes or things that occured that shaped our nation and what it has become. if you are so afraid of the past perhaps you should think about what has happened since obama has taken office. he is the only american president in our history to submit himself and our nation as subserviant to the ruler of another nation. specificly the islamic king of saudi arabia, where he bowed at the knee, waist and neck. obama, a great supporter and still muslim willingly made this act of submission. muslims take this very seriously. perhaps you should cry and rage about something more important than 150 year old symbols.

    1. LJ says:

      Darrell- on your computer screen there is a link to a thing called Google. You can use it to find websites which will give you information about any topic. I say this because you obviously are misinformed about several things. First of all, our President is not a Muslim. Second, The Sons of Confederate Veterans have a website where it clearly says what their real agenda is (it is also mentioned in this article). They want to revise history and make the argument that the Confederacy fought for the preservation of liberty and freedom. And before you make some argument about states rights, it is clear that the main “right” that they were fighting for was the “right” to continue slavery. Seriously, use the google button before you post. It’ll help you not seem so misinformed.

      1. darrell says:

        its nice to see that you subscribe to the distorted history of the victor which is the case in all conflicts. learn real history and not the propaganda you were taught. then come back and we can have an intelligent conversation.

      2. LJ says:

        Darrell, perhaps you have access to some historical facts that I do not. What do you believe were the primary reasons for the Southern States to attempt to break up the United States of America? And could you also let me know where you got this information???

      3. darrell says:

        the primary reason the south rebelled was the norths intention destruction of the southern economy. this south for years had sold its cotton to england where it was turned into affordable goods and shipped back to america. after the invention of the cotton gin the north, primarily industrial and in control of government by population representation, raised tarriffs on those goods, increased taxes on the south and by destroying markets for southern cotton forced the south to sell it to northern factories at much lower prices. they in turn made the same goods and then sold them to the south at higher prices than before.
        states rights was the second reason because the south believed that individual states had the right to suceed which the north denied. slavery was a social issue by religious fanatics of the north but was a great political tool. the north and the government are still doing the same thing today.

      4. Don W says:

        Talk about being misinformed, listen to you. You think Google is the place to get answers? Jeez, you have a lot to learn. Ever heard of the Morrill Tariff bill? Fort Sumter? Or that Obama attended a Muslim school as a child? I guess not, you were too busy Googling.

    2. Charles van Tuyl says:

      We may like or dislike our past, but it is still our past.

  2. CharlesL says:

    Sorry LJ, but have you been to an SCV meeting or event? You make it sound as though it has some kind of clandestine motive behind it. The SCV is as public as one can get and when you say revise history, there is none. Efforts by the SCV are only to counter the misinformaiton that has been put out there in public schools and especially in the media. The only thing this article does is to cast both Perry and the SCV in a negative light in the eyes of PC America. The SCV is about honoring Confederate Ancestors and defending them in this world of political correctness. And since the naacp has waged war on the battleflag under which hundreds of thousands of soldier fought and died, then there is even more reason for the SCV to be active.

    1. LJ says:

      Charles I have not been to a meeting but I did look up the website and the following is the first thing that you see there:
      “The citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America.
      The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South’s decision to fight the Second American Revolution.
      The tenacity with which Confederate soldiers fought underscored their belief in the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. These attributes are the underpinning of our democratic society and represent the foundation on which this nation was built.”

      Even if you believe that the Southern States were fighting to be free from the laws of the Federal government, there can be no denying that the laws that they were most upset about concerned slavery and the Federal government’s attempts to limit the spread of it. So I stand by my statement that the SCV (like many others) are trying to paint the defense of slavery as fight for liberty and freedom. That simply isn’t true. The South was fighting for the freedom to enslave millions of people. Fact not spin!!!

      1. CharlesL says:

        Finding it hard to believe that my greatgrandfather, who couldn’t even sign his own name, and the thousands of fellow non-slave holding soldiers of the South were fighting to preserve slavery. Certainly, I do not deny that slavery was a large part at what was at hand, but the South saw its rights in many aspects being eroded by an overbearing government, hence the Second American Revolution.

  3. Fred says:

    It represents hate, pure and simple… you can try and make something its not, but at the end of the day, its still based on a pile of poop. The confederacy, its flag and those who say its just heritage are racists and live in the past, along with any african american that feels they are “owed” something. Get in line behind the indians, the Irish and so on….give me a break….

  4. DumbButt says:

    lol….good try fred but names and symbols are just that….names and symbols….what gives these hate is who used them. take the swastika…germans killing jews….terrible…but take the symbol and reverse it….now it’s something else…..and if your forgetting or dropped out of school before you learned that we didn’t bring slaves with us on the mayflower….they were brought here and sold by…well, google it, you might learn something.

  5. Mikey says:

    It does not matter who started the slave trade in North and South America. Do we all agree that it is wrong? If you dont then there is no need for the conversation. You dont here Nazi descendants saying that the holocaust represents their heritage and that they want it preserved. They know and admit that it was an awful period in their history. I dont understand why the same doesnt apply to our country. That flag represents slavery, traitors, and opression…maybe our kids children will not have to deal with such foolish bickering…

  6. Tristan says:

    “That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states”

    -taken word for word from A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union.

    the cause of the war was the south attempting to preserve slavery. anything else is historical revision by the losers to try to save face from their traitor forefathers.

    1. darrell says:

      so your implying that texas was responsible for the civil war and dragged the rest of the country into it. the reasons for the civil war were unfair taxes, tarriffs on goods the south needed, unfair markets which favored northern factories and the social agenda pushed by religious fanatics about slavery. it boiled down to the north forcing the south into social and economic ruin for profit and power.

      FYI, your clueless.

      1. Tristan says:

        Sorry, but that’s just not supported by their succession declarations. They all, quite clearly, list the preservation of the institution of slavery. Every. Last. One.

        You’ve, unfortunately, bought into the southern revisionism for the war, which again, was about them trying to save face in the eyes of history.

        The south fought to preserve slavery, the north fought to preserve the union. anything else is revisionism.

  7. Mr. Tibbs says:

    Wow, here comes the denial again…some white folks acting like Black people booked Carnival cruise lines to get over here to work for free for almost four centuries…the murder, torture, broken families…perhaps the most heinous crime against humanity ever in this part of the new world, after the outright Native American genocide…and some of you are still covering for those war criminals…Gen. Sherman must not have burned enough of the Old South down /// Please stop lying…It demeans the sacrifice that was made by both sides…Ending Slavery was not the only reason for the Civil War, but it was the best, most moral reason for that tragic conflict…if any war can be called ‘moral’. Stop pretending… my white brothers and sisters … Don’t be afraid to look the evil dead in the eye, and call it what it was…”a social agenda pushed by religious fanatics…almost sounds like today’s right-wing scalawags”…LOL Stop hiding from the truth about how our country was built and maintained…there was a human cost to all that, and yet some white people won’t even acknowledge that there was even a ‘problem’ …Sad, delusional and dangerous…don’t keep using Hitler’s big lie to cover up the horror…Yeah, that other Hitler…the European one, you know with the short stache…I’m out ///

  8. darrell says:

    symbols of the south are no more racist than the red black and green hats and other clothing worn by blacks or the mexican festival outfits worn by hispanics or the flags banners and heros each of them celebrate. im especially tired of the black community screaming racism at even the slightest opportunity to keep it on top of our agenda. let me give you a great example.
    on april 29th 2011 an article ran about a all white tuition program. Texas Group Increasing Amount Of ‘Whites Only’ Scholarships. here in these blogs. the black community went balistic screaming racism and white hate etc. a simple google seach for all white only and all black only scholarships showed that there were just over 24,000 for whites nation wide. yet the search for all black scholarships came up with over 240,000. you dont see whites screaming racism about it. ill keep flying my confederate flag not because im a racist but because i have a heritage. just like everyone else.

  9. Mikey says:

    Why are ya’ll even attempting to have a logical convo with darrell…lol. Your confederate flag means something to you. It might not be racist to you but to others that were opressed and enslaved it does and even to other white people it symbolizes racism. The American flag means something to us all. You can say what you want but the reason we are having this discussion is because of the negative connotations of the conf. flag. Your view is not the only one that matters…

    1. darrell says:

      i will be the first person to agree that my opinion is not the only one that matters. emblems of our past, good and bad, should not be destroyed, hidden or forgotten but should be visible as reminders and lessons of causes and mistakes that hopefully we learned from. the agenda of the NAACP and the black leadership in this country is to purge our history of everything relating to the confederacy. while at the same time keeping the evil of the white man and slavery in the public eye with the ideal that we owe them something for the actions of those in the past. at the beginning of the civil war 60% of all free blacks in america lived in the south. many owned slaves themselves. unlike what your led to believe slavery was not a White thing but an economic one. the first slaves in america were white. yet we are not destroying the emblems or history of the pilgirms, the establishment of the colonies or any of the history prior to the civil war. the civil war was not fought based on racism, the symbols of the south were not created as symbols of racism. those non-blacks who believe they are you can call racist. those blacks who believe they are you can call racist. for those of us who know otherwise and understand what the civil war was about and want to preserve our history and the legacy and lessons learned from it are not racist. allthough organizations like the NAACP and black leadership in general will paint us all with a wide brush to advance their agenda.

  10. Mikey says:

    You can’t justify it…a large amount of free blacks did not own slaves. Whites that came to this land were indentured servants. Native Americans owned slaves…none of this matters. None of it is right. I am not affiliated with the NAACP or black leadership orgs. That flag has always been a negative symbol in my mind and not because of black orgs. I have seen ku klux klahn members wave the flag, seen racist orgs in the streets and they used that flag to represent them. I think you should work with those orgs first and get them to stop using “your” flag in a negative light to spread racism. Not to mention the whole civil war thing…Based upon your beliefs would you have fought for the south to preserve their “economic” way of life?

    1. CharlesL says:

      Really Mikey, sit down and talk with hate groups that misuse both the Confederate and US flags? That is a laugh. I for one will NOT, unlike some folks obviously, allow the klan or any other idiotic hate group determine what the flag stand for for me. Mt great grandfather was wounded twice fighting under that banner and it represents that sacrifice he made.

    2. darrell says:

      Mikey, it appears you are talking to me. first i never said a larger percentage of blacks owned slaves. i said some free blacks owned slaves. second, native americans owned other native americans as slaves long before america was discovered by anyone else. slavery was common world wide and included all races. third. the first slaves brought to this country by early europeans were white and they were not endentured. it later evolved into that and eventually got expensive. around 1633 the first black slaves were brought here from the carribean. with cheap slaves available endentured slaves from europe vanished in a few years. fourth, yes i know you have seen some groups use what you refer too as the confederate flag in activities etc. racist blacks also have a flag, used by the black panthers. its a red bar over a black bar with a green bar on the bottom. i have seen black groups and individuals use that flag or its colors and still do today. its a racist symbol but you dont see white people screaming about it. i do hope your paying attention to the history im teaching you. lets get back to that flag you talked about. the flag you refer too was not the actual confederate flag. that had a blue square in the upper corner with 7 stars in it with a red bar and a white bar extending to the right border beside it and a single red bar across the bottom. in those days it was not unusual for individual units from different states to have their own flags to distinquish them from others in battle. what everyone today calls the confederate flag i believe started as the battle flag of a unit from virginia and evolved into the confederate battle flag. would i have fought for the confederacy? had i been there and of age and felt i had a patriotic duty to preserve a way of life, protect my family and the interests of my people. yes, i would have. it would not have been just to own some slaves. but i wasnt there during that time. so i joined the military in our time for the same reasons and went off to war. am i a racist? not really. i do have strong prejudicises against those groups and individuals of any color, belief or agenda who try to force it upon me or others because they are racist or have social agendas.
      And Now Lastly. the very first remark you referred to me was:
      Why are ya’ll even attempting to have a logical convo with darrell…lol.
      in the future before you make a simular statement in reference to someone try to at least learn the facts about and behind the subject. in additions, i dont think im a racist but i know some will disagree and thats fine. however im pretty sure your a racist.
      fianally. your the one who cant have a logical conversation. your ignorance and your racism at least on this subject prevent it. i hope that at least you learned something today.

  11. Mikey says:

    Wow, really Darrell!? So now we are name calling? I’m a racist and ignorant because I don’t agree with you? My comment about not having a convo with you was a joke that’s why I said “lol” and went right into having a discussion with you but if you were offended, I apologize. I guess it was in poor taste…

    A racist is someone who believes their race is superior over another. I, my friend, am no racist. I am actually pretty offended. I am part black and chickasaw. My wife is part german and black. My entire family is a mixture of black and white with chickasaw in most of us, some more than others. Most of my cousins are biracial. I have more white people in my family than most white people, lol(joke). It’s funny that the person defending the conf flag would call me racist. I’ll pass on commenting any further, have a good one and thanks for serving most of my family has served as well…

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