Yes, you read the title correctly. The Equity Office of Austin, Texas is pursuing a pathway to change the name of America’s 11th largest city. The Equity Office is a legitimate sector of Austin’s city government, and their intentions are real. In fact, the process to change the name of Texas’ capital city is already underway. But why? What is the reason that Austin, Texas may actually change its name? The answer is the definition of lunacy.
It seems “Austin” is deemed offensive to many. The fastest growing city in Texas is named after Stephen F. Austin, who is recognized as the “Father of Texas.”
But what do we really know about Stephen F. Austin? We know a few things. He is acclaimed as the founder of Texas, as he brought the original 300 families from the United States into the region in 1825. He was one of the two most prominent founders of the Republic of Texas, along with Sam Houston. Austin was the first Secretary of State for the new republic. We know that two colleges/universities are named after him – Austin College (Sherman) and Stephen F. Austin University (Nacogdoches) – along with dozens of buildings. Stephen F. Austin has too many monuments in his name throughout Texas and Virginia to count.
But we know something else about Stephen F. Austin. When he settled in Texas, he brought slaves with him. And though an ardent opponent of slavery as an institution going forward, he owned slaves. And for that, the city of Austin should change its name, say some.
The Austin American Statesman reports that the Equity Office, charged with rooting out any and all monuments honoring slave holding Austinites and local supporters of the Confederacy, discovered that Austin “opposed an attempt by Mexico to ban slavery in the province of Tejas.”
So the Equity Office is suggesting the name “Austin” should go. Toward that end, a drive to secure signatures to put the move up for a vote has begun. The city has already renamed Robert E. Lee Road and Jeff Davis Avenue, even though a majority of her citizens opposed both moves. Next up on the chopping block are Dixie Drive, Sneed Cove, Confederate Avenue, and Plantation Road.
Never mind, without Stephen F. Austin, there wouldn’t even be an Austin, Texas (by any name). Nor would there be the state of Texas. But one must wonder, will Houston be next? After all, the namesake for the nation’s 4th largest city is Gen. Sam Houston, who also owned slaves. As did three of America’s first five presidents.
When will this silliness end? Unfortunately, not any time soon.