FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Would you buy a license plate with a Confederate flag on it? State officials are looking at possibly launching a new Texas state license plate honoring veterans of the War Between the States.
Mr. Hilary Shelton, with the NAACP in Washington, D.C., said that the Civil War may not be something we want to celebrate.
"When many look at that history, we think about it in terms of secession, that is we were seceding from the Union in the southern parts of the country," explained Shelton. "Many would view that, quite frankly, as treason, because they meant to actually destroy the existing governmental structure. But when we dig deeper, the issue becomes even more offensive to many African Americans and those that sought freedom for those of darker skin in our country."
"When you understand the Confederate history, and what it stood for," said Dallas resident Mark Jones, "it's directly slapping African Americans in the face."
In terms of the Civil War, Shelton said that the Confederate flag was actually very un-American. "It was the flag that was flown during a war to actually tear the nation apart," Shelton explained.
"I don't think that this will unify us," said Carrollton resident Carolina Arreola. "Our patriotism is to the Unites States flag."
But the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans have renewed their push for a Texas license plate that includes the rebel flag in its design.
Thomas Muhammed founded an organization to recover reparations for slavery. Still, he would not oppose the license plates. "I don't see how a flag hurts someone, as long as the people displaying these license plates are not killing people physically who are of African descent." Muhammed said.
Currently, nine states already allow the license plates. A statement in a recent newsletter from the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said, "…the Florida Division, the eleventh state, has just filed a lawsuit against the DOT there after their request was denied. I am confident their case will prevail, because legal precedents are in place. I am hopeful that the Texas DOT also realizes this as they consider our application."
(Note: Despite the above quote, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is actually the state agency responsible for the state license plates, NOT the Texas Department of Transportation.)
Shelton said that, ultimately, the issue is not about feelings over the Confederacy or those who fought in the Civil War. "The issue here is whether or not we should allow state dollars to be utilized to actually continue to advance these notions of the 'Old Confederacy,' and somehow or another that slavery and all those other things that were parts of that Confederacy were something worth celebrating. I think many, many of us would say the answer is absolutely 'no.'"
However, the City of Dallas already has a large Confederate memorial and several schools named after Confederate generals.
The state board that regulates license plates has rejected Confederate flag license plates before, but the issue is set to come up again at an upcoming meeting that has not yet been scheduled.
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