Tom Leonard, Daily Mail, October 18, 2021
For decades Phil Collins has been accumulating a huge collection of memorabilia from the legendary siege of the Alamo.
Now the 70-year-old Genesis frontman’s hoard of weapons, clothing, letters and other artefacts are at the centre of another battle – a very modern one about race.
Critics argue the collection helps perpetuate a narrative that focuses only on the battle’s white leaders and ignores Latinos, Native Americans and black figures.
On the other side are those who want the Alamo museum in Texas to simply remember the core participants of the 1836 battle between Texan rebels and Mexican soldiers.
Collins has been obsessed since childhood with the battle and even believes he is a reincarnation of one of the defenders.
He says he became fixated on the battle as a child growing up in Hounslow, west London, watching a 1950s Disney TV series about Alamo defender Davy Crockett and the 1960 John Wayne film The Alamo.
As he became a multi-millionaire, he began collecting Alamo memorabilia, much of it linked to the leaders of the siege, including Crockett’s rifle and Mexican general Santa Anna’s sword.
In 2014, Collins gave the 430-piece collection – worth up to £10million – to Texas.
His only proviso was that, by 2021, the state create a museum at the Alamo – a 300-year-old fortified mission in San Antonio that’s now a tourist landmark – to display it.
The 24,000 sq ft building will cost £15million and is scheduled to open next summer. However, Hispanic-Texan activists say the collection will only reinforce the idea of a heroic struggle between a handful of whites and a Mexican horde.
They want it to reflect the contributions to Texan independence of Texans of Mexican descent as well as Native Americans and black slaves.
Local politicians say it should remain largely focused on the Alamo’s leaders and the men – many of whom had come from Britain – who fought under them.
The arguments have become so heated that armed protesters have turned up at the Alamo.
George Cisneros, one of the leaders of the movement to make Alamo commemorations more multi-racial, said he feared the museum would be an ‘expensive palace glorifying the Alamo myth’.
But Brandon Burkhart, of the This is Freedom Texas Force, a conservative group, said: ‘If they want to bring up that it was about slavery, or say the Alamo defenders were racist…
‘They need to take their rear ends over the state border and get the hell out of Texas.’
The Alamo attracts 1.6million visitors a year and – thanks to Hollywood – has an almost mythical status for many Americans.