While serving as lieutenant governor of Texas, Rick Perry opposed NAACP efforts to remove monuments and memorials containing the depiction of a Confederate flag from statehouses and other government buildings across the South.
As reported by the Associated Press, the Texas state Supreme Court building once housed a pair of bronze plaques bearing symbols of the Confederacy, but Perry fought against the removal of the plaques, saying Texans “should never forget our history.”
The Associated Press obtained letters Perry wrote to the Sons of Confederate Veterans in March 2000 voicing his opposition to removing the plaques from the government building.
“Although this is an emotional issue, I want you to know that I oppose efforts to remove Confederate monuments, plaques and memorials from public property,” Perry wrote in the letter
“I also believe that communities should decide whether statues or other memorials are appropriate for their community,” Perry wrote. “I believe that Texans should remember the past and learn from it.”
“We should never forget our history, but dwelling on the 19th century takes needed attention away from our future in the 21st century,” Perry said.
Then Gov. George W. Bush, who was running for president at the time, initially supported keeping the plaques on state grounds but later changed his decision and authorized their replacement with new plaques that touted equal justice for all Texans “regardless of race, creed or color.”
In the past week, Perry has defended himself against criticism stemming from a report that his family leased hunting grounds that were called by a racist slur.
Throughout the past decade, the NAACP fought to remove monuments, markers or symbols of the Confederacy from government buildings across the South, including in the early primary state of South Carolina, but despite efforts to remove the flag from the top of the statehouse in Columbia, it still resides on the Capitol grounds.
In 2000, the South Carolina state legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from its post atop the Capitol dome, which had been in that position 1960s, but it was not completely eliminated from the premises. Instead, the Confederate flag was relocated to the Confederate Soldier Monument on the Statehouse grounds.