The spirit of white supremacy is alive and
well in Hays County.
Even with today’s diverse population, our county’s namesake – John Coffee “Jack” Hays – would be proud.
Let’s point out a few things about Hays before we can discuss our current situation.
Hays was a captain in the Texas Rangers who represented the Republic of Texas (not recognized by Mexico) and eventually the United States Army. From 1823 to 1919, the Texas Rangers served to protect the interests of white landowners. They displaced and murdered numerous indigenous people, Mexicans, Tejanos, and black people (slaves and freemen). It was reformed a few times after 1919 before it eventually became a part of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Hays served at some capacity during the 1830s and 1840s in the Rangers.
If you review historical documents, Mexico never recognized the Republic of Texas. The treaties signed by Santa Anna were not approved by Mexico’s Congress. Only three European nations officially recognized Texas as a sovereign nation. The Republic of Texas permitted slavery, something Mexico had abolished in 1829.
Mexico viewed the 1845 annexation of Texas by the United States as an illegal act, since Texas was only seen as a rebellious state, not a country. American history books teach that Mexico invaded the United States in 1846, resulting in the Mexican-American War. Hays served as an officer on the American side. In 1848, the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war. Mexico was forced to cede 55 percent of its territory, which includes the land from present-day Texas to California.
After California became a part of the United States, Hays joined another romanticized group, the Forty Niners. They also displaced and murdered numerous Native Americans and Mexicans as they went in search of gold.
His brother, Harry T. Hays, became a Confederate Brigadier General during the American Civil War (1861-1865). The Confederates claim to have fought for states’ rights, the biggest one, the right to own human beings. The Hays brothers proudly served institutions which valued this right.
A monument of John Coffee “Jack” Hays is located on the northeast corner of the Hays County courthouse lawn in San Marcos. It was commissioned by the San Marcos Arts Commission and dedicated in 2001. Not only do we have to file paperwork in a county named after a person who greatly despised Mexicans, Native Americans, and African-Americans, we get to see him every time we go Downtown. Thank you, San Marcos Arts Commission!
A few miles north of us, Jack C. Hays High School is located in Buda. The school mascot proudly reflects his family’s ties to the Confederacy by being named the Rebels. The school’s motto: Rebel pride never dies!
While many self-hating and misinformed Mexican-Americans served in the Confederacy, their treatment did not improve directly after the war. They were still seen as brown foreigners. Texas Rangers, like Hays, kept running them out of their lands. How many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans did the Hays brothers kill? We may never know. Those deaths would be recorded as casualties of war or “criminals”.
Not too long ago, Confederate flags could be seen at Hays High School football games. About 52% of the current student population is Hispanic. What is Rebel Pride? Are we teaching brown students to feel pride in a group which saw black Americans as property?
Closer to us, on November 9, 2019, the City of San Marcos hosted the Veterans Day Parade. A neo-Confederate group from San Antonio was allowed to participate in the parade. They marched with various Confederate flags.
Why would the City of San Marcos have a Veterans Day Parade to honor and insult veterans at the same time? This act was insulting to those of us who swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Perhaps they want us to follow in the steps of Hays High School where Rebel pride never dies. Even better, like the San Marcos Arts Commission, we should display statues of white supremacists in public spaces.
Most San Martians have been quarantined for two months. All San Marcos Consolidated School District students are participating in distance learning and will continue through the end of the school year. Sadly, seniors will not get to participate in prom or have a traditional graduation ceremony before the school year ends.
Several residents took it upon themselves to start a Facebook group named “Adopt A San Marcos Rattler Senior.” Community members adopt a San Marcos High School senior by giving them gifts and other goodies. This is a wonderful gesture for our graduating seniors.
Surprisingly (perhaps not), a senior had an image of a heart with the Confederate flag on her Facebook page. More than likely, this image portrays love towards her heritage. This same heritage continues to view African-Americans and other People of Color as inferiors.
Her family failed her. Her community failed her. This was just one student. How many more of them share similar images on social media? How many of them attend extremist right-wing gatherings?
These young adults will soon go to college or into the workforce. They will interact with diverse groups of people. We can only assume how someone who takes pride in the Confederacy will treat other human beings, especially those with darker complexions or those who speak with foreign accents.
If we can’t count on the City of San Marcos, San Marcos CISD, or Hays CISD, then we need to look up to Texas State University.
In 2016, the university relocated a monument honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis. They gave it back to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Bobcat faculty and students stood up to racism and gracefully packed up this symbol of hatred.
We need to stop being nice to white supremacists from the past and descendants who still share the same views. It will probably be difficult to rename the county, but we can decide who we honor and how we honor them in public spaces or events. There is no room for hatred in San Marcos. There is no room for hatred in Hays County.
Our community’s population is changing. It is up to our city, school district, university, and county leaders to take action. They don’t represent the old Texas Rangers or the Confederacy. They represent the new and more diverse population of Hays County.