Today the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles unanimously voted to deny the Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate. I applaud the Board for its decision to keep the Confederate flag off of our state license plates. I would like to give special thanks to my colleagues from Houston– Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman Al Green, Senator Rodney Ellis, and Representative Sylvester Turner— for their leadership on this issue. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the House–Representatives Allen, Alvarado, Anchia, Burnam, Dukes, Farias, Farrar, Gonzalez, Gutierrez, Hochberg, Johnson , Martinez, Muñoz, Naishtat, Reynolds, Thompson, Veasey, Vo, and Walle — that also fought to prevent the use of this symbol of racism and hatred on state sanctioned license plates. I congratulate this group effort that encouraged the DMV to make the right decision for the people of Texas. It shows that when we work together, anything is possible.

In October, I wrote a letter to the Board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles voicing my strong opposition as well as urging the denial of the plates. Click here or read below for the text of the letter.

October 21, 2011

Victor T. Vandergriff, Chairman, and Members
Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board
4000 Jackson Avenue
Austin, Texas 78731

Dear Chairman Vandergriff and Board Members:

Yesterday, I joined with 18 of my colleagues in the Legislature to urge you to oppose the issuance of a specialty license plate containing the image of the Confederate flag.

I’d like to reiterate my strident opposition to the proposed license plate because it remains an offensive symbol to me and my constituents, one that harkens back to a time in American history when bigotry and enslavement were intertwined into our national identity.

There are universally recognized symbols that evoke deep, visceral, negative reactions in people. For me and my community, the Confederate battle flag is one of those symbols. Just as the state would swiftly dismiss from consideration the use of other hurtful or hateful symbols, such as the swastika, so should they dismiss this particular symbol. There are simply too many painful memories, fearful references and negative connotations associated with this image to allow its placement on a state sanctioned license plate.

President Lincoln spoke of a time when we as a people would swell the chorus of the Union, when our memories would again be touched by the better angels of our nature. We should put aside these symbols from the time when our country lay divided against itself, and instead move forward in celebration of our unity, guided by those better angels.

This proposal should not be approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles, and I encourage you to oppose it.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

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