Texas museum cancels event analyzing slavery in the Battle of the Alamo amid GOP pressure

The event for the book titled “Forget the Alamo” was scheduled for Thursday evening

Hours before the start of a promotional event for a book analyzing slavery’s role in the Battle of the Alamo, the host museum abruptly pulled the plug due to pressure from Texas GOP leaders.

The event for the book titled Forget the Alamo was scheduled for Thursday evening at the Bullock Texas State History Museum when museum organizers canceled it roughly three-and-a-half hours before start time, turning away the authors and the 300 people who had RSVP’d.

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Authors Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford, and the publisher, Penguin Random House, say elected Republican leaders pressured the museum into canceling the event in an attempt to censor discussions about Texas’ history of racism.

“The Bullock was receiving increased pressure on social media about hosting the event, as well as to the museum’s board of directors (Gov. Abbott being one of them) and decided to pull out as a co-host all together,” Penguin Random House said in a statement, according to the Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott has not yet commented on the issue, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick confirmed via Twitter that he told the museum to nix the event. Abbott and Patrick both serve on a board that oversees the museum.

“As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it,” he tweeted Friday. ”This fact-free rewriting of TX history has no place @BullockMuseum.”

Tomlinson quickly responded to the Governor’s tweet.

“Lt. Gov, Dan Patrick takes credit for oppressing free speech and policing thought in Texas,” he wrote. “@BullockMuseum proves it is a propaganda outlet. As for his fact-free comment, well, a dozen people professional historians disagree.”

Stanford said in an interview: “If the state history museum isn’t the right place to talk about state history, then I don’t know what to do.”

The book, published in early June, analyzes the historical narrative surrounding the Battle of the Alamo, specifically the parts of its history often swept under the rug.

“Just as the site of the Alamo was left in ruins for decades, its story was forgotten and twisted over time, with the contributions of Tejanos–Texans of Mexican origin, who fought alongside the Anglo rebels–scrubbed from the record, and the origin of the conflict over Mexico’s push to abolish slavery papered over,” per Penguin Random House’s description of the book.

“As uncomfortable as it may be to hear for some, celebrating the Alamo has long had an echo of celebrating whiteness,” publishers added.

The topic of critical race theory has picked up steam over the past few months as several states, including Texas, have passed laws banning schools from teaching the subject, which is based around viewing race as a social construct.

After signing House Bill 3979 banning the subject from schools, Abbott said in a statement that “more must be done” to “abolish critical race theory in Texas,” and that the issue would be further discussed at a “special legislative session” in July.

Texas lawmakers also recently created the “1836 Project,” an advisory committee dedicated to promoting “patriotic education” in the state as a response to Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “1619 Project,” which centralizes Black history and perspectives in an analysis of U.S. history.

Stanford said the cancellation of the book’s promotional event was “the first test case of the 1836 Project,” adding that critics of such historical analyses are insisting “vehemently” on clinging to a “version of the past that never existed.” 

“There’s no reason conservatives can’t accept the past with open arms and say, that’s where we started, here’s where we’re going,” Stanford said. “There’s no reason they can’t tell the story of Texas as a redemption story, and that we’re still an imperfect union ever becoming more perfect.”

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