The tale of two billboards outside of Vega, Texas.
Photo courtesy of KAMR Local 4 News/MyHighPlains.com.
In mid-June, a picture of a billboard in Texas urging liberals to leave the state went viral. Located six miles out of Vega, Texas, on the I-40 Eastbound, the billboard read: “Liberals, please continue on I-40 until you have left our GREAT STATE OF TEXAS.”
The billboard’s owner was forced to take the sign down after receiving online death threats.
Burkett Outdoor Advertising, which owns the billboard, would not say who purchased it, but that the unidentified buyer had no problem taking it down. “This thing is really divisive and it’s not really sending the right message,” Burkett told the purchaser. “It’s just causing problems.”
The same day the billboard came down, Amarillo resident Roman Leal started a GoFundMe page to put up a billboard with a more inclusive message.
“We need a sign that represents the true, hospitable spirit of the great state of Texas,” Leal wrote in the fundraiser’s description.
“Texas is for everyone — not for bigotry,” Leal continued. “‘Welcome, Y’all!’ will go up on the Lamar digital billboard at I-40 and Coulter. It will be visible to travelers and commuters driving along the interstate in Amarillo, giving us a chance to put our best boot forward.”
In five days, the fundraiser has nearly doubled its original goal of $1,800.
The billboard went up on the 23rd and is scheduled to stay up for at least a month.
The new billboard could prove prophetic in 2020.
While Donald Trump won the state by nine points in the 2016 election — seven points less than Mitt Romney in 2012 — the immigration debate and rising Latinx population could turn the state blue in the next presidential election.
An April 2017 Lyceum poll found that 63% of Texans support allowing illegal immigrants in the U.S. to become citizens, and 61% oppose Trump’s border wall proposal.
A Quinnipiac poll found that Trump had a 43% approval rating in the state as of April 2017.