Austin ISD’s announcement that it will rename several more schools that have long carried names associated with the Confederacy has fanned more controversy over how we address that period of our country’s history. Intentionally or not, some protesters to the name changes continue to misunderstand or misstate what the issue is all about.
One commenter on TSTA’s Facebook page accused AISD officials of trying to help children forget history, and a couple of other commenters seemed to agree.
“Changing the name of a school is like the Civil War never happened…and teaches kids that you can change history to fit your narrative,” she said, missing the point entirely. The reason that the schools were named for Confederate figures in the first place was to deny history, to deny or downplay the fact that the reason Texas and the other southern states fought the Civil War was to protect slavery, a particularly extreme form of racism.
AISD is not denying the Civil War or the roles that many Texans and other prominent Southerners played in it. AISD, instead, has decided that it will no longer honor the memories of those individuals.
If you don’t like that change in policy, that’s your prerogative, but don’t claim it’s a denial of history. The real deniers of history were the 20th century defenders of the Confederacy who tried to whitewash the real reason the Civil War was fought. Many years after the war had ended, these individuals and groups supported erecting statues and naming schools for Confederate figures in an effort to cover up history with their own self-serving fiction.
There is nothing heroic about defending slavery or racism, and AISD officials recognize that.