The Detroit School Board voted Wednesday to open consideration into whether a handful of DPS schools should have their “offensive” names changed — including Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine, named for former presidential candidate, accomplished surgeon, and Housing and Urban Development director, Dr. Ben Carson.
The board will seek comment over the next several months on whether to change Carson High, which was named for Dr. Ben Carson before he became active in politics, and well before he became an ally of President Donald Trump, something the Detroit School Board apparently doesn’t appreciate.
The Detroit News reports that at least one school board member has been campaigning to have Carson stripped of the honor, and that the proposed name change has everything to do with how the Detroit School Board feels about Republicans.
“Board member LaMar Lemmons had pushed to rename Carson school, which is named after the Housing and Urban Development secretary and former Republican presidential candidate who graduated from the district,” the Detroit News said.
“Lemmons cited the neurosurgeon’s name being added when the district was under an emergency financial manager, saying some residents objected to Carson representing the city,” they added, quoting Lemmons as noting that “Residents ‘don’t support the (Trump) administration.'”
A policy passed in the district last year allows DPS to change school names in order to honor “individuals who have made a significant contribution to the enhancement of education,” and if “the community of the geographic area where the school is located requests a name change that more closely aligns with the history of the locality, or information newly discovered about the current name of the school is negative in nature.”
Poor Ben Carson isn’t the only one on the chopping block. Harms Elementary School, Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men, and Detroit School of the Arts are all under consideration for a name change. The most likely name to replace Carson or Douglass? Aretha Franklin.
Fortunately for Dr. Carson, it could be a while before Detroit gets around to renaming his school. The vote Wednesday night was just to open an “input period” for community members. The DPS board would have to undertake a separate effort to initiate a name change, and that change would have to pass muster with local voters.
For a brief time in 2017, a “name-changing” trend swept the United States as localities looked to rid themselves of monuments to Confederate generals, slaveholders, and other historical figures more recently deemed undesirable.
Although several key monuments were removed, the fervor over “problematic” names and statues died down, particularly after President Trump pointed out that those in charge of designating monuments and building names as “problematic” weren’t likely to stop their crusade once Civil War soldiers and Manifest Destiny supporters disappeared from the public square.
Detroit’s efforts to extricate Dr. Ben Carson from the city’s legacy is only proof Trump was on the right track.