Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, was a day in which history was made at John B. Hood Middle school. This school located in the city of Dallas’ southeast Pleasant Grove area is but one of the 224 educational facilities housed in the Dallas ISD. It is, also, but one throughout the independent district that reflects the ethnicity of the students to be in the majority of non-whites, reporting 83% of student body to be Hispanic, 15% being African American and about 1% White. This reflection prompted the students and faculty of Hood Middle school to raise questions. Those questions, led to the students exercising their freedom of speech while debating the issue, then to deciding through the democratic process to uphold and honor the decision of their majority vote.
Before exploring the unprecedented history made by these students, we must first take time to thank the faculty of Hood Middle school. This is what it means to teach our children. Causing them to pause and think, then to create a solution that not only benefits them, but future generations; and, not only, creating a solution, but implementing a plan of action. In this case, the greater lesson is instilling in the students that they can change and improve their community by coming together through agreement and working together with respect for one another to deal with the issue.
The history making issue that arose at Hood Middle school had to do with the school’s name; moreover, it has to do with the person in which that name belonged. General John B. Hood fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
Considering what history teaches (even in our whitewashed Texas school text books) of the Civil War, and the reasons for its unrestrained passions’ which led to it; one cannot fault this generation of students for questioning, why his name remains as the title of their schoolhouse? Or why must they revere his name as part of their school spirit when cheering for their team, their friends (reflections)? Or why can’t his name be removed from their school, especially, since they don’t reflect his beliefs?
The students’ voices were heard by one of their mathematics instructors, Cyntoria McDaniel. Ms McDaniel stated during a local news interview that she and most of her students did not agree with continuing to honor the general’s name as a part of their school. She then solicited the school principal, LaTonya Lockhart. Ms Lockhart understood the students concerns, and decided to have an election. She stressed the need to have the students go through the democratic process of exercising their civic responsibility by debating the issue, marking their ballot, and casting their vote.
The only item on the paper ballot required the student to select to either, “Yes” or “No” to remove the name John B. Hood from their middle school. The election was held during lunch on Friday, February 5th. Every student was required to participate. 61% of the students voted to remove the name John B. Hood.
In a few weeks, the students will hold another election to vote from a finalized list of student suggested and district approved names. After which, they will present to the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees in hopes of approval to rename their school.
Again, these students have made an unprecedented statement in the history of Dallas ISD. These students became uncomfortable in an environment that did not reflect who they are or what they represent. So, they stirred the pot by posing questions to those who could help their cause. The time came for each individual affected by the issue to voice their opinion on the matter.
Everyone’s opinion was taken to a tally, and the majority has spoken. Mostly, each individual has committed to continuing their involvement with the process to ensure the issue has been resolved favorably and as was agreed upon.
As a community, we should take heed to this most powerful history lesson unfolding before us; these students did not wait to be asked if they think they should change the name of their school. The students witnessed an injustice and took action to rectify; these students did not accept that this is the way society has to be.
The students decided to make a change for themselves and future generations, to remove any negative association to their school’s name; these students don’t even know if their actions will actually result in their school’s name change. But, they are taking action anyway.
What a powerful reminder for our community. In order to make change, we must take action.