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It’s Still Confederate Heroes Day in Texas

It’s Still Confederate Heroes Day in Texas

Mention the racism driving modern Republican politics and you’re likely hear a common objection. Some insightful Twittertarian with a degree from Prager U will point out that Democrats were responsible for the Klan and Republicans provided the decisive votes for the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960’s. This claim counts on us ignoring the past fifty years of partisan history.

Democrats were swept from power in Texas almost thirty years ago, never to hold statewide office again. If the Confederacy, the Klan, Jim Crow, and America’s whole sorry history with racism is a Democratic problem, why do Republicans so stubbornly cling to Confederate symbols and holidays? Texans in The Party of Lincoln have killed every effort to end our repulsive statewide holiday celebrating murderous treason. Why?

Hyper-conservative Texas Democrats in 1973 carefully placed Confederate Heroes Day so its celebration would drown out a looming commemoration of King. Over the decades that followed they gradually switched parties. White southerners with the strongest attachment to white supremacy completed their great migration into the Republican Party by about 2000, give or take a few years here or there.

When I was young, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, David Duke and Rick Perry were all Democrats. Elizabeth Warren was a Republican. Across the last quarter of the 20th century, America’s most committed bigots became Republicans.

Texas invented Confederate Heroes Day in 1973 as a passive-aggressive reaction against pressure to formally commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Texas would not have any formal MLK holiday until 1991, seven years after the creation of the federal holiday. Today, with all those supposedly freedom-loving Republicans dominating Texas politics, Texas clings to a holiday celebrating slavery. Texas Monthly has an excellent write-up on the history of the holiday, though in Texas Monthly fashion, it pulls most of its punches. The real story is in the comments section of the piece.

As Republicans took power across the South in the late 20th century, why didn’t they challenge the region’s attachment to its dark history? These new Republicans were the old Democrats. They still are.

Across the late 20th century, 8 of the 11 Confederate states had former Democrats serve as their Republican Governor. Seven of them had party-switching Republican Senators. The number of party-switching state legislators is legion.

Few Texans will publicly acknowledge the shadow of Confederate Heroes Day over a weekend celebrating human rights and justice. But Republicans still lack the courage to remove that shadow, knowing they depend on this dark legacy for their power.

A quick list of former Democrats who served as Governors in Confederate states since the late 20th cent:

Frank White, Arkansas
Rick Perry, Texas
Mike Foster, Louisiana
Buddy Roemer, Louisiana
Fob James, Alabama
Kay Ivey, Alabama
Nathan Deal, Georgia
David Beasley, South Carolina
Claude Kirk, Florida
Mills Godwin, Virginia

A similar list of Senators:

Trent Lott, Mississippi
Cindy Hyde Smith, Mississippi
Thad Cochran, Mississippi
Phil Gramm, Texas
Strom Thurmond, South Carolina
Jesse Helms, North Carolina
John Kennedy, Louisiana
Richard Shelby, Alabama
Florida, Mel Martinez


  1. The bigger picture is being missed. Read this executive order that was drafted Dec 16th for the tyrant. The same people in Texas, or wherever in the U.S., that support the racism, are all in his cult and are totally onboard with this. When he gets back into power in Jan 2025, he won’t make the same mistake twice.

    There is only one way to stop this, but the loser party simply refuses to recognize the obvious.

  2. The City I grew up in in Suburban Atlanta to this day still has a Jeff Davis Drive (North and South BTW,) a Stonewall Jackson Ave, and Lee Street on the Town Square. When the 2020 Census data became public the City has finally become a minority-majority city. It will be interesting to see if there is a push to finally rid the city of these symbols of hate that have no place in 21st Century America.

    One bright spot is during the November election, the citizens finally approved the sale of Liquor within the city limits outside of restaurants, So some progress. 🙂

    1. We’ve discussed it before:

      “”If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”-LBJ

      and a more updated version:

      “The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of whom will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.”-Davis X. Machina

      With the advent of Covid and anti-vax becoming a statement of tribal loyalty, the spite is even more extreme. We now have a segment of the population literally willing to endanger their own lives and the lives of those they supposedly care about so that they can defy the libs, the experts, etc. I cannot grok this. I fully confess that my feelings for these people have evolved into contempt for their spitefulness and willful ignorance, but I have no desire to harm them. I’d rather that they got vaxxed to get us beyond the pandemic. I think that indulging in schadenfreude when they die from Covid is a dick move (especially taunting their families), but I’m not going to express false sympathies either.

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