The Austin (Texas) school board has approved the removal of Confederate names from five of its schools.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that seven board members supported the renaming plan, and two were opposed.
Board member Ted Gordon, the only black member of the board and a staunch supporter of renaming the schools, noted that no African-American had any say in naming the schools for Confederate figures in the first place.
“I will be the only African-American who has had the opportunity to vote on the appropriateness of naming AISD schools after such Confederate associated individuals in our district’s history,” Gordon said. “With this motion I mean to correct this injustice.”
The schools to be renamed:
• The Allan facility (the former Allan Elementary), named for John T. Allan, an officer in the Confederate army.
• Reagan High School, named for John H. Reagan, the Confederacy’s postmaster general.
• Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston campus, which is named for Gen. Albert S. Johnston.
• Lanier High School, named for Sidney Lanier, a noted poet who fought for the Confederacy.
• Fulmore Middle School, named for Zachary Taylor Fulmore, a private in the Confederate army.
Prior to the vote, Superintendent Paul Cruz recommended renaming only three schools— Allan, Johnston and Reagan. However, Gordon’s motion was for all five, and the majority of the board backed him.
Board member Julie Cowan said she could not support the change because she fears the district is “breaking ties with hundreds, if not thousands, of people who could have been our allies had we been more strategic” in the approach to the name changes.
The associated costs for one secondary school to change marquee and building signage as well as logos on gym floors, among other things, could total $77,000, plus the cost of new sports and band uniforms, according to district documents.
The district and community will move forward to find new names for the campuses. The district plans to hold community forums to notify the public of the changes and solicit feedback for the new names.