SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- After months of build-up, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles board took barely a couple of minutes to unanimously vote down a proposed new Confederate license plate Thursday.
The idea originated with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Tennessee-based group with 35,000 members that sought to use the proceeds to build new memorials honoring Southern soldiers.
Michael Givens, the group’s national president - his actual title is “commander-in-chief”- said the decision was an injustice.
“For us to be singled out when it’s been issued in nine other states, there’s thousands of plates on the road right now, there’s no incident of anybody ever receiving any real harm from this,” he said. “It’s really just political.”
But playing politics with history has been the main argument of opponents. Critics accused the Confederate group of needlessly drudging up the legacy of slavery.
Progress Texas, a liberal non-profit group, led the charge against the plate along with other civil rights organizations, such as the Texas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Glazer’s group led a petition drive that collected more than 25,000 signatures.
“The community came together to oppose the Confederate flag on historical terms, on racial terms, so there’s really no compelling argument that could have been used to endorse this hateful image,” Glazer said. “So we are very, very happy.”
But Confederate plate opponents know they only won the first round. The Sons of Confederate Veterans were previously rejected in three other states, but later won their case in court each time.
Their main argument – which they’ve argued elsewhere and they’ll also bring up in Texas – is discrimination and free speech. They plan to file suit in Texas within a month.
Givens, the group’s president, would have preferred to talk it out with critics - if they were willing to listen.
“Why they won’t sit down and talk to us and learn who we are and find out that we’re just normal people,” he lamented. “I really don’t understand it.”