KARK’s Jessi Turnure reports that Rep. Charles Blake’s bill to legally ascribe a star on the Arkansas flag to the state’s Indian heritage rather than its participation in the Confederacy was defeated in House committee this morning.

Fergit hell!

The meeting is archived here, beginning at 10:52.

Blake said the change would correct a change made almost a century ago to venerate the Confederacy.  It would make the state “more culturally competent.”

Blake also said: “Symbols matter.” He said there’s nothing wrong with people knowing Arkansas was a Confederate state. But for future generations and people looking at the state, he said, his bill would say the state is “inclusive.” Blake got a series of friendly questions from Democratic legislators that noted it wouldn’t “erase history” and that the star denoting the Confederacy had a greater position of prominence on the flag than that of the star representing the United States. Republicans, with one exception, were hostile.

Opponents included Alexander C. Wilson IIII of Mountain Home, who said he believed the bill was part of an agenda to eliminate “everything possible having to do with the Confederate states.” The “War for Southern Independence,” is how he characterized the Civil War. Robert Freeman of Hot Springs, a veteran of the lost cause of saving the Robert E. Lee holiday, returned to fight this legislation. He noted the flag as a whole is meant to recall the Confederate battle flag. Add another star for Indians if it wants, but leave the Confederate star alone. Randall Freeman said he was a descendant of 32 Confederate soldiers, none slaveholders.

“We can be better as a state,” Blake said in closing. Rep. Nicole Clowney of Fayetteville spoke for the bill and removing a symbol that stood for slavery. “We can remember history without glorifying it,” she said.  Rep. Justin Gonzalez opposed the bill. He said Indians are already recognized in the state. Republican Rep. Jimmy Gazaway said the bill would not change history. But also a fact is that the state allowed the enslavement of an entire people, “much to its DIScredit.” [A typo on my part mischaracterized his quote originally.] He said the bill was about being sensitive and considerate to people who are descendants of people who were once slaves. “We owe it to the people of our state to recognize that.” Rep. Megan Godfrey urged the members to “listen to and believe and elevate” the experience of colleagues caused great pain. Rep. Andrew Collins  urged colleagues to be on the right side of history.

The bill failed on a roll call vote, with many Republicans taking a hike.  I don’t have roll call.