Henry Grady school in Houston renamed because of Confederate ties

Houston, we may still have a problem here.

School board members for Houston Independent School District, the largest school district in Texas, voted on Thursday to rename four schools with Confederate names.

One of them is named after Georgia’s own Henry W. Grady. The Houston middle school was added to the list of schools proposed for name-changing earlier this month along with Sidney Lanier Middle School. Lanier school was named after the Georgian better known for his work as a poet and musician than as a hardcore rebel even though he served at age 19 in the Confederate army.

The Lanier renaming is on hold until school officials can have further discussion, but Grady isn’t so lucky. A committee at the school will suggest a new name and offer a proposal to trustees. The decision raises the question, what exactly is the litmus test for whether a name should be removed from school buildings?

This most recent movement to rename schools named for Confederate supporters began in earnest after nine African-Americans were killed by a white supremacist in the mass shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. But similar efforts had begun at least a decade earlier.

How to balance history with the desires of the modern populace is a complicated issue. It requires a delicate handling that no one seems to have mastered.

“On one side there is the preservation of history and we don’t have enough things that teach us about our past…but on the other side, there is the way it resonates with people today, particularly groups of people who have been hurt in the past by the individuals or the movement. How you balance that is a complicated question and a case by case thing,” said James L. Roark, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of American History at Emory University.

Henry Woodfin Grady got caught in the crosshairs despite the fact that he was too young to have actually fought in the Civil War. The orator and journalist, who was part owner and editor of the Atlanta Constitution, did however believe his vision for the New South depended on maintaining white supremacy.

“Henry Grady was a racist. A mild racist for his time,” said Roark. But it was a rare white person who had no racial prejudice during that period of American history.

“The danger is to measure everything by today’s values and principles. Measured by that, almost everyone will come up short. If the solution to finding sin in the past is obliteration– changing names or moving monuments – we are really in trouble. We have to find a way to make this thing instructional,” Roark said.

Henry Grady statue on Marietta St. The women at Grady's feet represent history and memory. (AJC files)

Henry Grady statue on Marietta St. The women at Grady’s feet represent history and memory. (AJC files)

Henry W. Grady’s legacy is on view throughout Georgia. There’s Grady County, Grady Memorial Hospital and the statue of Grady at Marietta and Forsyth streets not far from the former offices of this publication. As for schools, there is Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia and Henry W. Grady High School in Midtown.

Charles N. Davis, dean of UGA’s Grady College said “What I know for a fact is this university decided to name this college to honor the spokesperson for the New South. The man who worked tirelessly until his early and tragic death to improve relations between races in the deep south.”

Davis said he wonders if there should be some margin for error. “Can someone mature and grow in their philosophy with regard to anything, including racism, and be recognized for that or is it just ‘On page 12 of the speech you gave in 1874, you said this?'” Davis said. “I feel very comfortable because I do at least know the history of my university’s naming was for [Grady’s] work in uniting the county, not dividing the country.”

An analysis by Vocativ shows that at least 188 public and charter K-12 schools nationwide are named explicitly for prominent Confederates or for places named after prominent Confederates.

The school renaming effort got a dose of star power this fall when actress Julianne Moore took to Change.org with a petition to rename her Virginia high school, J.E.B. Stuart High School.

Founded in 1959, the school was named after Stuart, a Confederate general in protest of the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision. Supporters now want to rename it Thurgood Marshall High School. The petition is about 400 votes shy of the desired 35,000 and so far, the name stands.

It is one thing to move a flag or a monument to a less prominent location, but schools names just aren’t that easy. Since you can’t hide a school name or just pair a Confederate name with a Union name and call it a day, what do you do?

“We have got to remember and learn lessons we want to teach from it,” said Roark. “I’m not sure politically that will satisfy constituents who feel oppressed by these names.”

Reader Comments 0

24 comments
CivilWarrior
CivilWarrior

Since the commentary on Grady has degenerated into puerile name-calling, I shall weigh in on another of the school-name dishonorees:  Sidney Lanier??!!  Really, to deem him deserving of this kind of repudiation is truly pathetic and absurd.  Yes, he served for a time in the Confederate army--as a signal officer!  He never fired a rifle at a Yankee but ended up a prisoner in abysmal Point Lookout where he contracted tuberculosis, which cut his life tragically short.  In addition to creating beautiful poetry, he was a fine flutist and composer, a mystic of the highest order, and a truly refined, evolved, humble human being.  You would be hard-pressed to come up with a more harmless man who ever breathed upon this planet.

If Sidney Lanier is now being recast as some evil monster, then how low indeed has our culture fallen!

quickdigits
quickdigits

This whole thing makes me sick.....along with Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Obama and every other caucasian-hating black person in existence!

UnknownGI911
UnknownGI911

Interesting that this newspaper after bashing and slashing everything Southern now half way defends the Grady name.  Also of note is how one white southerner can damn the whole south to penalties after Charleston but radical Muslims killing all over the country including Chattanooga are called Lone Wolfs and we are told NOT to judge Islam by their actions.  

Blasingame
Blasingame

This just shows how ignorant and bigoted the move to remove "Confederate" names is.  Henry Grady was 11 years old when the Civil War started.  He was an advocate of the "New South" and was pilloried for supporting "Northern" issues when he began his writing career 6 YEARS after the end of the Civil War.  The bigots on the Left rely on ignorance to spread their particular brand of fascism.

Question91
Question91

the Atlanta Constitution was founded by Colonel Carey Wentworth Styles and the Atlanta Journal was founded by Captain Edwin Hoge who were both Confederate Veterans. Will the newspaper change its name to help the oppressed?


prarrd
prarrd

Next, the blacks will want George Washington taken off the $1 bill. Their stupidity knows no bounds. They spend all this time trying to erase....the Civil War?? It wasn't even about slavery. 


And when the war ended, where did black slaves go? They chose to STAY right on the farm with their white masters! Just goes to show you that most blacks ENJOYED slavery. Unlike their African counterparts who never did anything, slavery by whites gave blacks the direction they needed to accomplish something. Blacks were smarter than oxen AND had opposing thumbs.


After the post-Industrial Era world where machines could do the work, blacks essentially became obsolete farm equipment and weren't needed anymore. 

YourWifesBoyfriend
YourWifesBoyfriend

Where does this insanity end?  We're headed towards a nameless, nondescript society because we have entirely too many precious snowflakes who are offended by every other word, action or symbol.  

quickdigits
quickdigits

@YourWifesBoyfriend You are Absolutely Correct! This is Pure Insanity! An entire Race of people Dictating what monuments/memorials/statues Should and Should Not Stand??? What Idiocy has taken over our Nation??!!!??? Next they'll be saying that the Civil War never happened! And the surprising but sad Fact of this is that White Liberals Fully Support this Nonsense!! Why?? Because White Liberals are so Damned Guilty about how their forefathers treated black slaves, so they feel like they have to "make good" on a totally Unnecessary promise to the black race!!

General Zolli
General Zolli

More cultural genocide... Where does the insanity end? 


The city of Houston was named after a southern slave owner and anti-abolitionist who happened to be the founding father of the great state of Texas. 

GB101
GB101

The headline is refers to his Confederate ties; the article says he was too young to serve in the Confederate army.  

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

Lots of schools named for Abraham Lincoln. His 19th century views on race would not be politically correct by today's standards. 

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

I still think that a statue of Young Thug should be on the front steps of City Hall, it would be honoring the new generation of Atlanta

scottw_
scottw_

Can't handle the truth?

TruthReallyHurts
TruthReallyHurts

@scottw_ What truth? That Henry Grady reportedly held racist, bigoted views? We can and have been handling it quite well. It's neanderthals like you who can't handle the real truth:  Your confederate heroes got duped by wealthy landowners, were on the wrong side of history and got their clocks cleaned. What a bunch of rubes!


End of story.

scottw_
scottw_

Will they rename them after Barack, Jesse, or Al-the biggest racists ever?

RationalThoughts67
RationalThoughts67

@scottw_ that is a completely worthless comment.   If you don't have something meaningful to say, just keep you dumbarse mouth shut.  You are just proving your ignorance to everyone that reads your comment.

RationalThoughts67
RationalThoughts67

@Dawgs88 Dawgs88.  I am a middle-aged white guy with 3 college degrees.   I know a racist when I smell one.  Crawl back in the hole you crawled out of.

Dawgs88
Dawgs88

Aww what's the matter Rational? Truth hurts doesn't. It's only racist if it concerns white men, but everybody else can do what they please. You and Rev. Al can GFYS.

Blasingame
Blasingame

@RationalThoughts67 @Dawgs88 Three college degrees and the best you can offer is ad hominem insults?  What were your majors?  Basket Weaving, 18th Century Russian Poetry and Internalizing Navel Lint Gathering?