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Equity Office Proposes Renaming 7 Confederate Streets – And Maybe Austin Itself

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
Vandalization of the Robert E. Lee Road sign sparked a conversation over whether the street should be renamed. The Austin City Council voted to change the name of the street honoring the Confederate general in April.

Austin’s 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 the Austin 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 Austin City Council members presiding over those districts propose new names for the streets.

The office also suggests the city reconsider the name 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 Rec Center
  • Stephen F. Austin Drive, as well as the city’s name itself and a rec 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. The Austin City 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, S.C. 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.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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