Texas lawmakers are once again urging a federal council to change offensive racist names of geographic locations across the state.
The Texas House and Senate last month signed a resolution urging the American Board of Geographical Names to approve name change requests for 16 locations that include the term “Negro.” The panel plans to meet on Thursday to vote on the removal, The Washington Post reported.
“The perpetuation of racist language is a stain on the Lone Star State, and it is vital that the names of these geographic features be changed to reflect and honor the diversity of the population,” the Senator wrote. Borris Miles in the resolution.
USBGN, which is responsible for maintaining geographic names for the federal government, blocked a similar request from the state in 1991.
Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who co-sponsored the proposed name change 30 years ago, said he learned last year from an NPR reporter that only one of the 19 names he had he originally proposed to change had been – and this was due to a request from a local real estate developer in 2018. Two other locations he identified no longer exist, leaving 16 locations unchanged. He alerted state lawmakers to locations that had not been renamed.
“If it’s so easy to give a horrible name, why isn’t it so easy to change that name?” Ellis told the Washington Post while blowing up bureaucratic bureaucracy.
USBGN, which is part of the Home Office, said the name changes were previously rejected because the proposed new names lacked historical connection and because there was no evidence of local support. Both are requirements for a name change, even if a name is considered derogatory or offensive, according to the USBGN website.
“We spent a lot of time contacting the counties, and a lot of them said, ‘No, don’t change those names. And we weren’t consulted, ”USBGN researcher Jennifer Runyon told NPR last year.
The process ended there because it’s not the job of the board to actively try to change the names, Runyon said.
In 1963, then Home Secretary Stuart Udall ordered that the N word and a term offensive to Japanese Americans be removed from all geographic names. At this time, some of these names were changed to include the word “nigger”.
The USBGN website lists hundreds of locations across the country with the word “nigger” in it.
The current resolution in Texas, Senate Resolution 29, resubmits the previously proposed name changes for each location.
A stream in Van Zandt County, for example, would be renamed Milton Holland Creek and a stream in Brewster County would be renamed Buffalo Soldier Creek. Another stream in Freestone County would be replaced by Jack Johnson Creek.
The USBGN website acknowledges the failure of attempting to change the names of these three locations. He indicates that the proposal was rejected in 1999 “because the Council observed no evidence that there had been any local involvement in the name change process”. In the case of Freestone County, there was also “no evidence of local objection to the current name or local acceptance of the proposed name”.
In a comment shared with HuffPost on Wednesday, Freestone County Judge Linda Grant said she was unaware there was a creek in the area with the word “nigga” in its title and that she did was unaware of the past or current name change request. .
Attempts to reach officials in Van Zandt and Brewster counties failed on Wednesday. USBGN and Miles also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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