Sunday, March 17, 2019

Change the Name activists March in Marinwood

Silent march’ supporting Dixie name change evokes civil rights movement

2-mile walk part of effort to change the name of Dixie School District

By KERI BRENNER | | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: March 16, 2019 at 6:26 pm | UPDATED: March 16, 2019 at 7:54 pm


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A "Silent Parade" makes its way through the Marinwood area of San Rafael, Calif. Saturday March 16, 2019 to draw attention to racial injustice and the need to change the name of the Dixie School District. (Jeremy Portje/ Marin Independent Journal)


After months of loud and raucous public testimony, debates and rallies, proponents of changing the name of the Dixie School District made a large statement Saturday in total silence.

“I think it’s pretty powerful,” said Lisa Doering of San Rafael, one of about 60 sign-carrying adults and children who marched two miles in silence between two schools — both named Dixie — in north San Rafael. “After all the noise and yelling, it’s very powerful to walk along and just think about all of this.”

The event, which was to replicate a 1917 silent march on Fifth Avenue in New York City organized by civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois, was to give support to changing the name of the Dixie School District. Proponents say the name Dixie is linked to the racism, slavery and violence of the Confederate South and causes distress for people of color and others who are offended by it.

“Between 1880 and 1960, there were 5,000 lynchings of black folks in our country,” Noah Griffin of Tiburon, a leader of the movement called Change The Name, told a crowd of supporters who gathered in the parking lot of Dixie Elementary School, just off Lucas Valley Road in Marinwood. “We are not a pocket of privilege. We are not exempt from change. We cannot close our eyes and ears to what’s going on across the nation (to remove Confederate symbols). It is our turn to step up and step forward.”

Opponents of the name change, organized as We Are Dixie, said in a statement that the silent march was “completely inappropriate and not community-spirited” and was scheduled to interfere with the Dixie Little League parade which also took place Saturday. The silent march, originally set for 9 a.m. Saturday, was moved to 10:30 a.m. so as not to overlap with the parade.

“The march … has invited outsiders to our community to create further division and turmoil and is planned for the same day as the Dixie Little League Parade,” the We Are Dixie statement said. “It is completely inappropriate and not community spirited, but nothing surprises us anymore with the Change The Name group and their desperate attempts at press coverage and complete disregard for our community.”

According to the We Are Dixie statement, no counter-marches were planned. Aside from a shout of “shut up” from a passing vehicle, the march proceeded peacefully for two miles from the Dixie Elementary School to the tiny, circa-1860s Dixie Schoolhouse, on the grounds of Miller Creek Middle School on Las Gallinas Avenue.

At the schoolhouse, the group posed for a photo shoot — holding up their signs ranging from “#Dixie Must Go” to “Love not Hate” — and then sang several rounds of “We Shall Overcome,” led by Griffin, who was holding a Confederate flag for the photo shoot.

“This was a remarkable experience, for me to be quiet that long,” district parent Bruce Anderson, who walked in front in the march, quipped to the group at the schoolhouse. “Just ask my wife or my son and my grandson.”

Anderson urged supporters to remain steadfast.

“Our diligence still needs to continue, until the board says they’re going to change the name with a vote,” Anderson said.

In recent weeks, the district’s board of trustees has been looking at a process to decide to change the name and select a new one — but has not yet clearly stated its intention one way or the other. A public hearing on two new potential names submitted by petition will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the district office at 380 Nova Albion Way in San Rafael. The proposed names are Sojourner Truth Elementary School District and Live Oak Valley Elementary School District.

Dixie trustee Marnie Glickman, who is leading the change the name effort within the board, said Saturday she was “really proud to be here. I’m really proud of my neighbors.”

She declined further comment. SEE FULL ARTICLE IN The Marin IJ HERE

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