SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – A battle is brewing in Dixie … California.
Officials from a city north of San Francisco have refused for the time being to change the 150-year-old name of the Dixie School District, despite criticism from some claiming that it conjures up Confederation and l & # 39; 39; slavery.
After more than five hours of public comment sometimes stormy, school officials rallied Tuesday supporters of maintaining the name, saying that it pays tribute to an American named Mary Dixie.
Those who asked for a name change offered 13 options to change it to something else, claiming that the district had its name because of Confederation supporters. Among the new names were "Marie Dixie Elementary School District" and "Skywalker Elementary School District".
The issue generated weeks of heated online debate in San Rafael, an extremely populous city of 59,000 people, some insisting that the name Dixie is insensitive to race, while others complained about the political correctness.
Patrick Nissim, a former student of district schools, said that he did not subscribe to the idea that everyone who wants to keep the name is racist, but added a name change "n '. is not an indictment of this district.Change the name is simply the next free chapter in the history of this district.This is a lesson in empathy.
Marge Grow Eppard, a member of the Miwok tribe who said her last name was Dixie, said that she "did not realize that my family's name was so shocking", "I do not see any Confederate flag here … You're going to change Mary Dixie's name, you're dishonoring us all. "
A majority of school board members said they were in favor of the name change, but feared that the process would seem hasty and require more community involvement, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
Dixie is a nickname given to the southern states of the United States who split up to form the pro-slavery confederacy in 1860, triggering the civil war. The legacy of Confederation continues to spark political, legal and cultural battles to this day.
James Miller donated land for the first school. Those supporting the name change say that the district was named Dixie by Miller on a challenge launched by Confederate supporters. Those who oppose the change say that the school system was named in the honor of an Indian Miwok woman that Miller knew in the 1840s.
Opponents argue that the school board agreed in November to submit the name change issue to a non-binding community vote in 2020 and that it should stick to that decision.
Chairman of the Board, Brad Honsberger, urged speakers to remain diplomats.
"The political world seems to be accused and disrespectful, including hateful comments and blaming others," said Honsberger. "Dixie has the opportunity to demonstrate how a speech can be respectful, courteous and tolerant."