With a new school year dawning, education officials are grappling with whether to remove the names, images and statues of Confederate figures from public schools — especially since some are now filled with students of color.
The violence at a white nationalist rally over a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, is giving school officials a new reason to reconsider whether it’s appropriate for more than 100 schools to be named after Confederate generals and politicians from the Old South.
“It does not make sense to have schools named after individuals who were directly connected to that dark past, and force kids in Dallas, a majority minority population, to walk into these schools every day and have to face this past every single day,” said Miguel Solis, former board president and current board member of the Dallas Independent School District.
Dallas, along with other cities, began moving to change Confederate names and imagery after white nationalist and Confederate enthusiast Dylann Roof murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015.
Most Read Stories
But the reviews gained momentum after the Aug. 12 protest by white supremacists in Charlottesville, which left one counter-protester dead.
“We don’t tolerate hate or discrimination of any form, and we are committed to providing an educational environment where all students can feel safe and welcomed at school,” said Superintendent Aurora Lora in Oklahoma City, where there are four schools named after Confederate generals.
“We want to think about the people our buildings are named after and whether they represent the values we as a district have at this time,” Lora said.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are at least 109 public schools named after Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis or other Confederate icons in the United States. Of those, “27 have student populations that are majority African-American, and 10 have African-American populations of over 90 percent,” according to the SPLC’s 2016 report.
Several school names were changed, or new schools were built and named after Confederates “during the era of white resistance to equality,” the SPLC report said.
Solis said he has support for his effort to change school names in Dallas, but “that’s not to say that there haven’t been people who have been very upset because they believe…