DALLAS (CBS 11) — Chrystal Montaperez loves John B. Hood Middle School. The 14-year-old 8th-grader from southeast Dallas is in conflict with her personal loyalties: She tells her social studies teacher that the school’s name doesn’t mean the same as it did decades ago, but she doesn’t support a call to change the name.
“It wouldn’t change who we are, the way we act,” Montaperez says.
John B. Hood was a highly praised General in the Confederate Army. His bravery and heroism are noted by historians; Texas’ largest Army installation is named after Hood.
In the 1950s, Dallas School District leaders named several schools in honor of Confederate fighters from the Civil War, who seceded from the U.S. in the effort to preserve slavery. Many of those schools today enroll large numbers of students who are descendants of slaves.
On Friday over 900 students at Hood Middle School cast ballots in a ceremonial election to remove the Hood name attached to the school since 1955.
Fourteen-year-old Leighton Douglas didn’t think twice. He voted to strip the Hood name from the school.
“We shouldn’t have to come to school everyday to a name that was oppressive to my family members,” he said.
The student election was the idea of teacher Cyntoria McDaniel.
“When I found out who John Hood was, I was shocked to know our school was named after him,” the math teacher said.
After classroom discussions during lesson plans pertaining to the Civil War, students were asked about a school referendum on the Hood name.
Many students openly discussed their loyalty to the name, despite the history. Others said the school became the brunt of jokes and bullying from others who referenced the school in street slang as the “Hood” school.
When the votes were tallied, 61% of the student body voted to remove the name.
The school will now pass the election results to a parent-teacher committee, who’ll ask the Dallas School Board to approve the removal of the Hood name. A vote could occur in October.
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