4 Houston schools with Confederate names to get new monikers


From Houston, Texas comes this story, another instance of the retreat of confederate heritage. Thanks to a vote by the Houston Independent School District Board, “Robert E. Lee High School plus three middle schools — Henry Grady, Richard Dowling and Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson — will get new names to be proposed by a committee from each campus. Four other schools that had also been on the name change list were pulled to allow trustees time to discuss the issue with communities from those campuses.” The story quotes Derek Alderman, a professor of geography at the University of Tennessee: “I think it’s important to realize that even before Charleston, we had some pretty highly publicized incidents of African-Americans pushing for changes in the way we as an American society deal with African-American expression and African-American memories and the role of white supremacy in our culture.” Alderman and Russell Weaver of Texas State University have a mapping project that “has identified at least 872 parks, natural features, schools, streets and other locations in 44 states named after major Confederate leaders.”

“Nick Harris, a 1996 graduate of Jefferson Davis High School — one of the campuses that was pulled from the name change list — told board members they should not focus on his alma mater’s name but on the students who have graduated over the years and contributed to Houston. ‘My biggest issue is: What’s the importance of changing the name? We need to worry about building the school,’ Harris said.”

That’s a popular tactic with those who oppose name changes and removal of monuments. They want to claim the name or the monument is so insignificant a symbol that we should be worried about “more important things.” Yet, their participation shows it was important enough to them to publicly speak out to oppose the change.

Hany Khalil of a group called Community Voices for Public Education, “said school names ‘should reflect the values we hold dear today.’ ”

There are those who say we shouldn’t judge people of the past by today’s values, and I agree with that; however, in deciding who we should honor, shouldn’t we also take current values into account as well as the contributions of the individual to make a well-rounded decision based on complete information on who we believe deserves to be honored?

What do you think?



  1. Jimmy
    I don’t agree with most of the things you say, but I must agree with this, if the majority of the citizens want to change the names of the schools so be it. But if you think Confederate Heritage is retreating you are sadly mistaken. Our Southeron and nothern schools are becoming more segregated ever day.The children of any color who want to change the name of their school have ever right to do so. So I don’t know what your point is.

    1. It’s Al, not Jimmy.

      Confederate heritage is retreating all over the South, Jessie. People are changing names of buildings named for confederates, removing statues to confederates, removing confederate flags from official buildings, taking the confederate flag off license plates, and banning confederate flags from parades.

      My point is to report on this development in the legacy of the Civil War.

  2. Shoshana Bee · · Reply

    It took me three false starts to gather my thoughts on this topic, and the resulting conclusion is disappointing …… to me. I am a coward. One quick glance at the comments (at the end of the Houston article) reminded me how volatile race relations still are and have always been. As a beige person , I have felt the tension whenever something “unpopular” occurs as a result of changes or benefits for racial reasons. I fear that changing the names of the schools is only going to increase resentment towards those very people who would benefit from a new name. I would like to believe that we have entered the age of enlightenment, but I have my doubts. As always, thank you for taking the time to search this out for those of us who are constrained by time.

  3. Mark Mitchell · · Reply

    Henry Grady? What’s wrong with a newspaper editor who helped build the Southern economy after the war? Does everything associated with Southern history have to go now?

    1. Obviously not, since these are southerners making these decisions. Grady wasn’t just a newspaper editor, he was also a vehement supporter of white supremacy. Here’s Grady: “But the supremacy of the white race of the South must be maintained forever, and the domination of the negro race resisted at all points and at all hazards, because the white race is the superior race. This is the declaration of no new truth; it has abided forever in the marrow of our bones and shall run forever with the blood that feeds Anglo-Saxon hearts.”


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