A billboard was spotted near Vega, Texas, with a very clear political message to those passing through.
"Liberals, please continue on I-40 until you have left our GREAT STATE OF TEXAS," the sign read.
A billboard on Interstate 40 eastbound near Vega is making waves on social media. The billboard states, "Liberals,… https://t.co/n2xQOxdNqr— ABC 7 Amarillo (@ABC 7 Amarillo) 1529449205
The board began ruffling feathers in mid-June 2018 after a Facebook user shared a photo of it online. In the week after, the post garnered over 22,000 shares and sparked heated, partisan conversations in its comment section.
Clearly, whichever individual or company purchased the ad — which has now been taken down — didn't intend to bring Texans together. And many local Texans were bothered by the signs divisive intent. (Upworthy reached out to Burkett Advertising, which owns the billboard, for more information on who purchased the space. We will update this article if it provides a comment.)
So Roman Leal, a resident of nearby Amarillo, had a simple but great idea: put up a better billboard.
She launched a GoFundMe page with a goal to raise $1,800. With the funds, Leal aimed to put up a more inclusive sign that better "represents the true, hospitable spirit of the great state of Texas."
The fundraiser took off. In just five days, over $3,200 was donated to her efforts, with excess funds allocated for keeping the sign up longer than the originally planned four weeks.
The new billboard came to life shortly after: "Texas is for everyone — not for bigotry," it read.
New billboard says "Texas is for everyone" after billboard told liberals to leave https://t.co/6TyvjHdRjj https://t.co/xfetKiAGaL— The Hill (@The Hill) 1529936706
An outpouring of gratitude filled the GoFundMe's comment section.
"Texas is a big state with big personalities and diverse political opinions," one commenter wrote. "It’s important that everyone feels welcome, and it is important that all Texans feel at home."
"Fight hate with love," another chimed in. "Be excellent to each other."
"I'm by no means a liberal," one Texan shared. "But the idea of inclusion rather than exclusion is what this great state is all about!"
These billboards don't reflect bickering blue and red Americas — they show why tolerance trumps bigotry.
Every state should be welcoming to all of its residents, after all. And if you're encouraging a group of people to drive away until they hit a state border, you're doing it wrong.
"Thanks to all the patriotic Texans that helped us reach our goal so quickly," Leal updated supporters on the fundraiser. "I'm incredibly proud to be a Texan and an Amarilloan today."