"The Confederate flag is a symbol of oppression," Democratic U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, whose district includes most of the inner city, told KHOU-TV, Houston, Sunday.
The flag represents "the brutality of slavery and it is a symbol of fear and intimidation," the congresswoman said.
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is sponsoring the specialty plate on behalf of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, some of whom say people are overreacting.
"They make it sound as if there's some brazen banner on the plate," member Frank Johnson said. "It's a 3-by-3 [inch] logo. It's not the battle flag! It's the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo."
The Department of Motor Vehicles is scheduled to vote on the proposed plate in November, A group of Houston leaders said they'll be in Austin when the DMV votes with a letter signed by more than a dozen legislators opposed to the proposed plate.
"Some of my ancestors fought for the Confederacy," said state Sen. Rodney Ellis, a Houston Democrat. "They don't know me and I don't know them but I'm glad they lost. They were on the wrong side of history and that's what this is about today."