Lewis Cass Intermediate School District
lewis cass

Michigan district named for former slaveholder will choose a new name

Dec. 21, 2020
The Lewis Cass Intermediate District was named for a former governor and senator who was instrumental in the removal of Native Americans from their land and who supported the continuation of slavery.

A school district in southwest Michigan named for a former governor and slaveholder has decided to change its name.

The St. Joseph Herald-Palladium reports that the school board for the Lewis Cass Intermediate School District, based in Cassopolis, Mich., has voted to change the name.

Members plan to vote on a new name in January. They discussed Prairie/Lake Intermediate District as a new name, but first want to gather citizen input.

The intermediate district provides special education and career technical education to parts of four counties.

Superintendent Brent Holcomb says board members want the name to be geographically significant, rather than based on a person.

Board members say that Lewis Cass was an important person in Michigan's history, but he also was instrumental in the removal of Native Americans from their land in the early 1800s and supported the continuation of slavery in Southern states.

The district formed a special committee in the summer to examine a name change after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer renamed the state-owned Lewis Cass Building in Lansing. The name was changed to the Elliott-Larsen Building, to honor the legislators who sponsored the state's civil rights act in 1976.

Cass was Michigan's territorial governor from 1813 to 1831; he then became the secretary of war under President Andrew Jackson and carried out Jackson's policy of Indian removal.

He was later a U.S. senator, representing Michigan from 1845 to 1857.

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