clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Confederate place names prompt discussion of major change

Lamar, Burnet, and other historic namesakes included

Man riding horse and carrying a Confederate flag
From the Confederate Heroes Day parade in Austin, 2016
PiercarloAbate /Shutterstock

The city of Austin has been fairly active in recent months in addressing the issue of schools, streets, and other civic places that were named after major figures of the Confederacy. City staff is continuing to make recommendations for name changes, the Austin Business Journal reported Friday, and its new suggestions include renaming not only places with “heavy ties to the Confederate States of America” but looking at those with ties to slaveholding and racism as well.

That, of course, means looking at a lot of names, including some of the most prominent ones in the city: Duval, Burnet, Lamar, Barton, and Austin. According the Journal, the city’s Equity Office last week released a memo that lists those places—called “city assets”—and groups them by priority for renaming.

Assets for “slated for initial review,” those changes most highly recommended, are those that directly reference the Confederacy: Dixie Drive, Confederate Avenue, Plantation Road, a Jefferson Davis highway marker, Confederate States of America historical markers, and so on.

According to a Friday Austin American-Statesman article, staff also recommended the following assets for more immediate action:

• Littlefield Street

• Tom Green Street

• Sneed Cove

• Reagan Hill Drive

The city estimated that it would cost $5,956 to rename the seven streets listed (not including highway and historical markers, which presumably could simply be removed after applicable permissions from state landmarking authorities).

Its “Assets for Secondary Review” broaden the scope to include an examination of those with more general ties to slavery, segregation, and racism. According to ABJ, those include:

Bouldin Creek and Bouldin Avenue: neighborhood and street named after Col. James Bouldin, who was a slave owner

Barton Springs: the pool and bathhouse named after William Barton, who owned slaves and settled on Comanche land

Burnet Road or Lane: a street named after David G. Burnet, a Republic of Texas official who was a slave owner

Lamar Boulevard: a street named for Mirabeau Lamar, who was a Unionist but owned slaves and advocated for placing Native Americans on reservations

Waller Street: a street named for Edwin Waller, the first mayor Austin who also owned slaves

Staff included the city’s name on the list as well, since Stephen F. Austin aka “The Father of Texas” fought to defend slavery when the state was still part of Mexico (which had moved to ban the practice), “believed slave labor indispensable for Texas to flourish in its production of sugar and cotton... [and] wanted slaveowners to be compensated if their slaves were emancipated,” the city memo states.

The Journal notes that staff is not recommending the names on the second list all be changed but that they “need more review and analysis.” Notably, the names staff is not necessarily recommending be changed are the ones that appeared frequently in headlines across the city and country.

Names for Lamar Boulevard, Burnet Road—and Austin itself—under review as city studies Confederate references [ABJ]

City report on Confederate monuments raises idea of renaming Austin [Austin American-Statesman]

Where should the city draw the line in renaming of places? Let us know what you think in the comments below!