Brazos County, Texas, officials came under fire for extending its annual tribute to the Confederacy to the entire month of April. The county officials did, however, condemned slavery as a part of the history of the Civil War that ended in 1865.
 
Brazos County has celebrated Confederate Memorial Day annually for one day for more than 100 years. This week, the council commissioners passed a measure again proclaiming April as “Confederate History and Heritage Month,” as they have on each of the past seven years.
 
This year, however, when commissioners offered the proclamation for review by their only African American colleague, Irma Cauley, they ended up acknowledging slavery as “one of the causes of the war, and was ended by the war and is therefore condemned.”
 
County Judge Duane Peters said that numerous residents of Brazos fought in the War Between the States. Most fought for the Confederacy, while some – he said – fought for the Union. “Slavery was certainly a bad reason to fight a war over, but that wasn’t the only reason — and we condemn slavery in the resolution,” Peters said.
 
The proclamation notes that it was in April 1861 that the Confederacy was formed. It also said that Texas, once it seceded from the United States, contributed 115,000 sailors, soldiers, and marines to the conflict. The proclamation also said:
 
“Whereas, Our recognition of Confederate history also acknowledges that slavery was one of the causes of the war, was ended by the war, and hereby condemned;”
 
However, Peters said that while the proclamation was carefully reviewed by Cauley, she was not present for the vote approving it. “This really to me wasn’t about a black, white issue,” Peters said. “It’s honoring our ancestors who may have fought for the Confederate side, but there were other reasons than slavery that people fought for.”
 
The Sons of Confederate Veterans calls on counties across the South to memorialize the Confederacy. Among the reasons for the war, contend both the group and Judge Peters, were the tariffs paid on cotton exports before the Civil War began.
 
There were critics of the proclamation. Among them were Professor Gwendolyn Webb-Hasan of Texas A&M University, who said “My first reaction is how unfortunate in 2016.” She said furthermore, “For us to celebrate a horrible atrocity in our history, as it relates to the Civil War and slavery, and to sometimes do that through the celebration of Confederate History Month, I just think that that’s a sad testimony to 2016.”
 
Prof. Ed Dorn of the University of Texas slammed the county for honoring those he said were involved in something "morally abhorrent," while comparing Confederate soldiers to Muslim suicide bombers. "It's just stupid," he said.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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