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Dallas ISD Board Votes To Scrap Names of Confederate Leaders From Schools

Candy’s Dirt

Originally Posted: September 29, 2017

The discussion was at times contentious, but overall, Dallas Independent School District trustees were unified in their desire to change the names of four schools currently named for Confederate leaders.

The board voted unanimously to require schools named after Albert Sidney Johnson, Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and William L. Cabell to change their names.

A fifth school, John B. Hood Middle School, changed its name to Piedmont G.L.O.B.A.L. Academy last year.

As expected, there was plenty of spleens vented during the time afforded for public comment at the beginning of the meeting. In the end, those speaking about the subject were fairly evenly split for and against.

“Your resolution creates a new and separate set of rules, but only for us,” Stonewall parent David Blewett, said, insisting that the rules in the resolution were unfair. The resolution created a method to expedite the name changes, a change from the provided process in district policy.

Blewett, who is white, said the rules created inequality.

“Didn’t we already discuss separate but equal?” he said, adding that the resolution created “new and separate set of rules, only for us.”

“You should table it so we can slow down and work together to resolve the issues in the right way,” he added. “Please table this resolution.”

Fellow Stonewall parent Brandon Lee said he could see both sides, but an incident over the summer crystalized the issue for him.

During vacation away from Dallas, his child was wearing an “I (heart) Stonewall Jackson” t-shirt from school and was approached by someone and asked if she really approved of Stonewall Jackson. Lee was faced with explaining what the t-shirt meant.

Dallas ISD

Lee Elementary (photo courtesy of Yelp)

“I don’t want to have to do that again,” Lee said. “I don’t want my children to have to do that.”

Lee also acknowledged that the school has also worked hard to go beyond what its name stands for.

“We’ve done the best we can with the name we’ve been given,” he said.

Stonewall parent David Coon decried the name change, saying, “Changing names now after 80 years is like changing the name of dog or cow to something else.”

He felt that the discussion adults were having was beginning to affect the children who attend Stonewall, including his child, who worried that about the name change.

“History is history,” Coon said, adding that as a scriptwriter for the show “Cheaters,” he could recognize politicking and hyperbolic writing. “People should grow up and get over it.”

“History isn’t going anywhere,” countered fellow parent Seth Laughlin, who used his time to speak out in favor of the resolution. “History is in the history books.”

Mary Ann Parrish, another Stonewall parent, began a petition to urge the district to change the school’s name.

“The name, which is associated with pain and hatred, does not reflect our great schools,” she said. “It’s time to change the name, that would help the wounds of the past.”

Dallas ISD

The Stonewall Gardens at Stonewall Jackson Elementary (photo courtesy Dallas ISD).

But perhaps the fiercest words came from former Stonewall parent George Davidson, who removed his child from the school.

Davidson, who is African American, said, “I stand before you today for all the little brown and black faces that walk into Stonewall Jackson.”

He said his child’s experience was not inclusive and was full of racist incidents that included references to watermelon, and an incident where a student licked his son and commented that he didn’t taste like chocolate. His child was called the n-word, he said.

After urging the board to pass the resolution, he said, “Imagine this was your baby, having these experiences, you would want this, too.”

Rachel Ball-Phillips, a history professor at Southern Methodist University, spoke both as a Stonewall parent and as a history expert. After explaining how the experts feel, she also urged that the board pass the resolution — with one suggestion.

“We’re in a new historical moment,” she said. “Professional historians should be part of this process.” READ MORE