Confederate flag license plate debate continues

October 23, 2011 7:38:27 PM PDT
Civil rights activists and lawmakers have demanded that the State of Texas reject a license plate that would include the Confederate flag.

That's a proposal in front of a state board right now, and it's causing controversy between groups that say the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism and groups that say it's a symbol of Southern pride.

If Frank Johnson has his way, he'll soon be able to put a specialty Texas license plate on his car -- complete with the Confederate flag.

"Our whole purpose is just to keep the heritage of our ancestors alive," he said.

Johnson is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans -- the organization that proposed the plate.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles board rejected their proposal in April. The Sons of Confederate Veterans argued the ninth board member wasn't present at that vote, and so the board will vote again next month.

"It's amazing to me. It appears that it's political football," Johnson said.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee feels differently about the proposed plate.

"The Confederate flag is a symbol of oppression, the brutality of slavery and it is a symbol of fear and intimidation," she said.

Jackson Lee joined other lawmakers, civil rights activists and religious leaders this weekend to voice their opposition to the Confederate flag license plate.

Gerry Birnberg with the Harris County Democratic Party was among that group as well.

"Why is this state even contemplating going back to that?" Birnberg asked. "It should not happen. It cannot happen."

Johnson says the flag is more about honoring the men who fought for the south during the civil war.

"I don't think it's aimed at our flag. Personally, I think it's a racist attack on a heritage organization," Johnson said.

But opponents are calling for the DMV board to vote it down again.

Nine states currently offer a specialty plate featuring the Confederate flag. The Sons of Confederate Veterans are lobbying for similar specialty plates in Florida and Kentucky as well.

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