HISD Board Votes to Rename 4 Schools Named After Confederate Loyalists

Ericka Mellon, Houston Chronicle, January 14, 2016

The Houston school board voted 5-4 Thursday to rename four campuses named after Confederate loyalists and postponed decisions on four others amid community concerns.

Trustees agreed to kickstart the process of renaming Henry Grady, Richard Dowling and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson middle schools and Robert E. Lee High School.

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Board president Rhonda Skillern-Jones had included eight schools on the list for renaming, but trustees agreed to remove four–Lanier and Johnston middle schools and Davis and Reagan high schools–to allow for more discussion. Trustees who represent those four schools made motions to exclude them.

Newly elected trustee Jolanda Jones, who represents Lanier, posted Wednesday on Twitter that she supported changing the school’s name. However, on Thursday she proposed removing the campus from the immediate renaming list, saying she wanted to host a meeting at the school.

“Sidney Lanier was a confederate soldier despite what some say,” Jones posted on social media. “I would vote 2 change an anti-Semitic name if asked 2.”

Numerous parents and students from Lanier dressed in the school’s purple color and urged the board to keep the name. Sidney Lanier, they said, is better known as a poet than as a soldier in the Confederate army. They also said they had little time to discuss the issue because the school was not on the renaming list floated months ago.

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All five minority trustees voted for the name changes.

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Before the vote, James Douglas, president of the NAACP of Houston, urged trustees to eliminate Confederate loyalists from school names.

“Do I forgive them? Yes,” Douglas said. “But I don’t want to honor them. I think it’s a travesty that this country honors people who create treason. They were willing to destroy this country in order to treat my forefathers as inhuman.”

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