Dear Editor, In 2015, Austin Independent School District had five schools named after Confederate soldiers and leaders, and three schools named after men instrumental in slavery and ethnic cleansing in Texas. In the immediate aftermath of the massacre in Charleston, the Board of Trustees moved to rename the five Confederate-named schools. Unfortunately, they moved a little hastily. The Confederate-named schools were named after different kinds of Confederates at different times and deserved different consideration; community input should have been taken prior to demanding the name changes. But what the board chiefly left out was education. The most important task of the board was to take advantage of this controversy to teach the history of the honored men – what is troubling and what is decent about them – and the history of school segregation in Austin. There was a pro-segregation race riot at McCallum High School in 1971, 15 years after Brown v. Board. AISD was declared minimally desegregated over a quarter-century after Brown. The district remains informally segregated. People need to know about this. Whatever the board, paying due attention to community input, decides to do with the names of our schools, it must take this occasion to educate students, faculty, staff, parents, and the city as a whole, about our racial history.
Dr. Bryan Register Lead Organizer, De-Confederate Austin