Austin outlines Confederate streets slated for renaming

Austin
Robert E. Lee Road sign in Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dozens of streets and markers in Austin have made a city list outlining Confederate ties to their names and opening the possibility that they could be changed. 

Austin’s Chief Equity Officer Brion Oaks sent the update in a memo Thursday, providing an overview of findings that began after the city passed a Confederate Monuments Resolution last October. His office worked to identify streets and monuments the city owns that have ties to the Confederacy. 

It produced two lists: one it recommends for immediate changes and another with a list that needs more analysis. The second list also includes names not tied to the Confederacy or the Civil War but “within the spirit of the resolution representing slavery, segregation, and/or racism,” the memo stated. Oaks said the city should have a discussion about that list and decide whether to change names or leave them the same and educate the public about their history.

Notable names on the second list include Barton Springs (after William Barton, who owned slaves and settled on Comanche land), Lamar Boulevard (after Mirabeau Lamar, who was the president of the Republic of Texas, owned slaves and colonized Native land) and Burnet Road (after David G. Burnet who was vice president under Lamar). Stephen F. Austin Drive also made the list because Austin “fought to defend slavery in spite of Mexico’s effort to ban it, believed slave labor indispensable for Texas to flourish in its production of sugar and cotton; believed that if slaves were emancipated they would turn into ‘vagabonds, a nuisance and a menace.'”

The first list and those recommended for an immediate change include Dixie Drive, Littlefield Street, Tom Green Street, Sneed Cove, Reagan Hill Drive, Confederate Avenue and Plantation Road. The estimated cost to change street signs is $5,956.23, according to the memo.

The memo also says there are two ways the roads could be changed: the typical route that includes applications for name changes and notifying residents of the street or a route that waives that process and sends it straight to a public hearing, with residents still notified. The Transportation Department recommends the latter route “for efficiencies.”

Robert E. Lee Road and Jeff Davis Avenue have already been renamed in the city.

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