GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of the unveiling of the Confederate statue on the south side of the old Williamson County Courthouse.
The anti-racism group Courageous Conversations wants to put a plaque next to the statue addressing slavery as part of the Civil War. Members say the statue, in its current state, represents slavery.
Currently, another plaque sits outside the courthouse referring to African-Americans as ‘pioneer settlers.’
“I want (the plaque) to say that we were not pioneer settlers, that African-Americans came here as slaves,” explains Jaquita Wilson with Courageous Conversations.
Wilson and ten other speakers in support of the plaque spoke before the commissioners court Tuesday, asking them to approve their application for the plaque. Three people spoke against the plaque.
“The Confederate memorial does not require any interpretation,” said Shelby Little, as he addressed commissioners court Tuesday morning. “This is not 1865. Events, people and societies of those times cannot be legitimately compared to present day.”
“I’m tired of being labeled a racist or white supremacist or supporter of Jim Crow laws simply because I want to honor the history and heritage of our communities,” said another speaker.
After hearing from both sides, commissioners did not vote on the application, saying they didn’t have enough time to review it before a midnight deadline to submit the paperwork to the state. The commissioners court must approve the application before it can be sent to the state to review and the window to submit applications to the state began in September. The Texas Historical Commission has the final say on whether a marker gets approved.
Wilson says they were originally scheduled to be on the November 8 agenda, but were pushed back to today’s meeting. The county says the agenda item was delayed because the group’s application was not complete at the time. The advocacy group says they’ll re-apply next year.
“We’re going to keep pushing this agenda as much as we can because it’s more than about a Confederate statue,” explains Wilson. “It’s about us showing the world that Williamson County (is diverse.) We’re trying to include all of our people.”
The fight over Confederate statues reached a new level after last year’s massacre at an African-American church in South Carolina. It led to changes at the University of Texas. Two months after the Charleston massacre, workers removed a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the South Mall of the campus, which had been on display since 1933.