Austin, Texas’s capital city, is looking to step away from its Confederate roots. According to The Hill, a recent report released by the Texas Equity Office assessed Austin’s monuments and street names and identified at last 10 instances where they were named to honor the Confederacy, as in the case of Dixie Drive, Confederate Avenue, Plantation Road, and Tom Green Street. Some streets and areas have also been named after Confederate member and slave owner William Barton, who has been dubbed the “Daniel Boone of the Confederacy.”
In addition to removing monuments and changing street names, the city is looking to change its name altogether. The city of Austin was named after Stephen F. Austin, a man who “opposed efforts by Mexico to abolish slavery in the Tejas province,” saying freed slaves would become “vagabonds, a nuisance and a menace.” He is often referred to as “the father of Texas” since he founded the city in 1839, The Hill explains.
But changing a city name is not an easy process. In Austin’s case, it will “likely require a citywide election because the name has been denoted in the city charter,” according to The Hill.
The push to move away from the Confederate legacy in Austin has been happening for several months. The Travis County Historical Commission “sanctioned the renaming of Robert E. Lee Road to Azie Morton Road and Jeff Davis Avenue to William Holland Avenue.”
“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,” the Equity Office noted. They added that almost all monuments erected and streets named after the Confederacy were not done so following a democratic process. They acknowledged that people of color were never able to speak out about their concerns over honoring the Confederacy through monuments and street names.
Austin’s reevaluation of its Confederate legacy is just the latest in a nationwide initiative to move away from the legacy of the Confederacy. While there has been a call for the removal of Confederate monuments for years, it wasn’t until the shooting of black churchgoers in 2015 by avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof that the call to remove Confederate monuments reached a fever pitch. While some feel that removing these monuments poses a threat to preserving America’s history, “at least 110 publicly-supported Confederate monuments and symbols across the U.S. have been removed since 2015,” Newsweek reports.