DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Independent School District officials are searching numerous historical figures to determine if their connections to slavery or the Confederacy should prompt consideration of removing their names from district campuses.
District administrators recently recommended changing the names of elementary schools honoring Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston and William L. Cabell, The Dallas Morning News reported.
A list of more than 20 other people — including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Texas revolutionary Sam Houston — was later compiled to look into their histories, though more research is needed to determine what, if any, action should be taken, District Chief of School Leadership Stephanie Elizalde said.
“This was just a very quick review of looking at the biographies of the individuals,” Elizalde told trustees on Thursday. “And if there was any association with Confederacy — not making a judgment for or against — just if we saw Confederacy named in it, we then highlighted it. We are now in the process of doing a second (look).”
School officials are faced with the difficult decision of where to draw the line when it comes to what level of involvement in the Confederacy may merit a name change, Elizalde said. Some of the schools’ facilities are named after those who have lesser Confederate army ranks or who were involved in non-combat roles.
The distinction the district should look at shouldn’t be the position the historical figure held, but whether the school was named to honor an individual for their role in the Confederacy, said Trustee Dustin Marshall.
“I will not support a name change for Franklin since Benjamin Franklin clearly had many accomplishments that form the basis for why the school was named after him,” Marshall wrote. “I don’t believe this school was named after Franklin to send a signal of oppression and control.”
But Trustee Lew Blackburn said the school will be somewhat hypocritical if they don’t address slave owners.