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HPPR People & Communities

In Amarillo, Local Response To "Liberals" Billboard Gains National Attention

Roman Leal

Last week, the Texas Panhandle was abuzz about a billboard. The sign didn’t mince words, simply asking “LIBERALS" to "please continue on I-40 until you have left our Great State of Texas.”

In an editorial in The Amarillo Globe-News, Jon Mark Beilue called the sign, “childish and immature, noting that the sign only “add[ed] to the division in the country.”

After the backlash, the sign was promptly taken down.

This week, a different sort of billboard is making national headlines. The sign on I-40 in Amarillo reads: “Texas is for everyone—not for bigotry. Welcome, y’all. The people of Amarillo.”

The billboard was put up through crowdfunding by local coffee-shop owner Roman Leal. When we spoke with Leal, he’d just finished doing an interview with CNN about his message of inclusion. Leal told HPPR that he wanted a sign that reflected the Texas Panhandle that he knows and loves.

“My grandparents came to this area as migrant farm workers” Leal said, “and they stayed because of the welcoming and supportive community they found here. That spirit of hospitality defines Texas in my mind.”

As of Monday afternoon, a post about the new billboard on the social-media site Reddit contained over 5,000 comments and tens of thousands of "up votes."