Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Huffman: Dixie must take ‘long, overdue step’ to change name

Huffman: Dixie must take ‘long, overdue step’ to change name

Huffman, 4 other leaders send letters to school board asking for new name

By KERI BRENNER | kbrenner@marinij.com | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: December 17, 2018 at 4:13 pm | UPDATED: December 18, 2018 at 7:21 am

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With a nod to the national “ugly resurgence of neo-Confederates and white nationalists,” U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman has sent a strong and urgent letter to members of the Dixie School District board of trustees suggesting they change the district’s name to something that does not connote “a dark and hateful part of our nation’s history.”
Congressman Jared Huffman (Frankie Frost/Marin Independent Journal)

“We cannot separate this issue from the broader context of our country’s struggles with racism,” Huffman, D-San Rafael, said in the letter, sent last week to board president Brad Honsberger and copied to the four other board members. “Our nation’s dark history and current struggles with racism compels us to be honest about the hateful origins of these symbols, and to acknowledge that whatever revisionist nostalgia some may attach to them, they are rooted in racism and deeply offensive to some people.”

Opponents of the name change, however, said the issue should be decided locally.

“As we’ve always stated from the beginning, this issue was manufactured by aspiring politicians and outside special interest activists,” reads a statement emailed Monday from “We Are Dixie,” a group that wants to keep the Dixie name.

“The school board and district should not be threatened with the fear of a ‘dark cloud’ hanging over us if we vote to keep the name,” the statement says. “The community should be heard and not be told how to feel by outside special interest groups and politicians.”

Those in favor of changing the name, who gathered Saturday to brainstorm new name ideas and collect petition signatures at a party in San Rafael, applauded the letter. At the party, at least 30 names were suggested, of which about eight received the minimum 15 signatures to present to the school board on Jan. 15. Additional suggestions may be added at ChangetheName.net.

“Support for the name change has reached historic levels,” said proponent Alex Stadtner. “I’m proud that in the 21st century, our community is finally ready to shed this divisive, Civil-War-era name that harms some members and tarnishes our image.”

Huffman, a former civil rights attorney, was joined in the letter-writing effort by state Sen. Mike McGuire, San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips, Marin Community Foundation CEO Thomas Peters and Marin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke. They each sent their own letters — in their own words but with the same sentiments — to the board.

“The name Dixie can’t stand in modern America,” said McGuire, D-Healdsburg, SEE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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