A report from the city of Austin’s Equity Office reportedly suggested that to scrub the Texas capital clean of any mention of the Confederacy or the practice of slavery, the city itself would need to change its name.
The Austin New Statesman reports that the Equity Office, charged with rooting out any and all monuments honoring slaveholding Austin-ites and local supporters of the Confederacy, discovered that Stephen F. Austin, one of the fathers of Texas and the man who drew the states’ borders, “opposed an attempt by Mexico to ban slavery in the province of Tejas and said if slaves were freed, they would turn into ‘vagabonds, a nuisance, and a menace.'”
And so, the Equity Office suggested the city name “Austin” could go, though the Office admitted it would take an election, since the name would have to be “struck from the city charter and replaced.”
Altering Austin’s name is also far down on the list of priorities. The Equity Office considers the name “Austin” as a second-tier issue, to be considered after Austin’s citizens address a number of street names and local monuments that pay homage to questionable historical figures.
The city has already renamed Robert E. Lee Road and Jeff Davis Avenue, even though “a majority” of Austin’s residents “opposed the changes.” Up next on the chopping block are Dixie Drive, Reagan Hill Road, Sneed Cove, Confederate Avenue, and Plantation Road, as well as a series of historical markers “related to the Confederacy” that are on city property.
The Equity Office has met with a host of opposition, with most suggesting the progressive department is trying to whitewash Austin’s history. The Equity Office responded by saying that the time has come to make changes.
“It is essential to acknowledge that societal values are fluid, and they can be and are different today compared to when our city made decisions to name and/or place these Confederate symbols in our community,” they noted, adding that, when the markers were placed and the streets named, residents of color weren’t given a say in the process.