Dallas Independent School District is renaming three elementary schools, stripping them of names associated with the former confederacy, D Magazine reports.
A sign for Stonewall Jackson Elementary’s new name — Mockingbird Elementary — was installed on June 11th, although its new name will not become official until July 1st, the magazine says.
The two other schools, Robert E. Lee and Cabell Elementary will be renamed Geneva Heights Elementary and Chapel Hill Preparatory, respectively. A 54-member committee voted to rename the schools last December.
For many, confederate monuments, including the confederate flag and schools or streets and highways named after confederate army officers, are a stark reminder of the country’s history of racism. Some question if inclusivity can ever be achieved while preserving confederate monuments.
The board’s official resolution directly calls out racial and economic disparities as a reason behind the decision: “We believe we must directly confront inequities in school and teacher quality, resource allocation, socioeconomically and racially segregated enrollment patterns, and issues of programmatic access and effectiveness that result in achievement and attainment inequities for each and every demographic group.”
According to district data, more than 92 percent of Dallas Independent School District students are African American or Hispanic; meanwhile, more than 86 percent of district students qualify as “economically disadvantaged,” meaning they receive free or reduced price school lunch or other public assistance.
The current wave of removals of confederate memorabilia began back in 2015 after nine black people were shot and killed by white supremacist, Dylan Roof, at a predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooting sparked nationwide conversation about the significance of confederate symbols after photos of Roof posing with confederate flags surfaced.
It wasn’t until activist Bree Newsome scaled the South Carolina state capitol building and removed the confederate flag that the state officially agreed to begin removing of reminders of the confederacy.
Although the initial momentum died down, conversation was reinvigorated after an organized white supremacist rally dubbed “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville, Va., turned violent, injuring 19 and killing one woman. White supremacists from across the country gathered in protest after the Charlottesville official decision to remove its confederate monuments.
In the wake of Charlottesville, the list of states choosing to remove their confederate monuments continues to grow and monuments are being removed across the country. As reported by Next City, the removal of confederate statues have sparked further debates surrounding transparency as local governments feel the need to protect the corporations and individuals removing the monuments. Those involved with removing confederate monuments have faced criticism, harassment and even death threats.
Although the Dallas Independent School District is taking its first steps to remove symbols and names of the confederacy, they acknowledge this is only one small measure in the movement towards equality:
“We recognize that Dallas [Independent School District] students face many out-of-school factors that impact their education including but not limited to poverty, housing, transportation, and health care, and in these areas we must engage in robust collaboration with private entities, nonprofits, philanthropy, and municipal institutions including the City of Dallas, Dallas County, Dallas Housing Authority, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit to alleviate the symptoms of these factors.”
While the district is taking allowable actions within schools, as recently as April, the city of Dallas has yet to come to an official decision about how it will handle its confederate monuments.
Brianna is an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for summer 2018. She's a rising senior at Penn State University, majoring in media studies. She intends to graduate in May 2019.