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Friday, July 27, 2018 by Andrew Weber

Equity Office proposes renaming 7 Confederate streets – and even the city itself

The Equity Office is recommending the city remove or change the names of streets, parks and markers in Austin that honor the Confederate States of America and slavery.

The office also suggests eschewing the name “Austin” altogether, as Stephen F. Austin fought to defend slavery in the Texas Revolution and supported the institution after the state gained its independence from Mexico. In a memo, it states:

(Austin) fought to defend slavery in spite of Mexico’s effort to ban it; believed slave labor indispensable for Texas to flourish in its production of sugar and cotton; believed that if slaves were emancipated they would turn into “vagabonds, a nuisance and a menace.” Wanted slaveowners to be compensated if their slaves were emancipated.

The Equity Office released its recommendations today after City Council asked it to examine the issue in October. It labels seven streets as “high priority” for renaming:

  • Littlefield Street
  • Tom Green Street
  • Sneed Cove
  • Reagan Hill Drive
  • Dixie Drive
  • Plantation Road
  • Confederate Avenue

The list also suggests changing, removing or adding context to a handful of historical landmarks and signs.

The office estimates the street-renaming effort would cost nearly $6,000, and recommends Council members presiding over those districts propose new names for the streets.

The office also suggests the city reconsider the names of some of Austin’s most recognizable streets, parks and landmarks – including Pease Park, Barton Springs, and Bouldin and Waller creeks – but not before input from Council and the public. The Equity Office says those second-tier suggestions honor figures who weren’t directly tied to the Confederacy, but may represent “segregation, racism, and/or slavery.”

That list of city-owned streets and properties includes:

  • Pease Park
  • Bouldin Creek
  • Waller Creek
  • Barton Springs
  • Bouldin Avenue
  • Pease Road
  • Duval Street
  • Burnet Road and Burnet Lane
  • Burleson Road
  • Lamar Boulevard
  • Hancock Drive and Hancock Recreation Center
  • Stephen F. Austin Drive, as well as the city’s name itself and a recreation center named for Austin
  • Waller Street
  • William Barton Drive
  • Oliphant Street
  • Lanier Drive
  • Mirabeau Street
  • Fort Sumter Circle
  • Fort Sumter Road

The Equity Office’s charge comes after a move by the city and the Austin Independent School District to rename properties honoring Confederate figures. Council unanimously voted to rename Robert E. Lee Road and Jeff Davis Avenue after Azie Morton and Will Holland, respectively. AISD renamed Robert E. Lee Elementary in 2016 in response to a racially motivated shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. The district also voted to rename Lanier, Reagan and Eastside Memorial high schools, Fulmore Middle School and the Allan Center in February.

View the full list of suggestions and the entire memo below.

Download (PDF, 1.75MB)

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT.

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