Name proposals for Austin high schools

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Austin ISD is currently in search of new names for five Austin-area high schools and campuses that were previously named after Confederate leaders. Below citizens' petition proposes the names of six Texas greats for the district 's consideration.

BESSIE COLEMAN
(1892-1926)

A Texas native who rose from a humble beginning to become the first African American and Native American female aviator in American history. She was born and raised in Texas in a sharecroppers’ family with 13 children. Because women were not allowed to become pilots in the US at the time, she worked on two jobs to save money and took French courses to be able to go to France to become a pilot. Upon receiving her license and moving back to the States, she had to work as an airshow pilot as she was not allowed to fly commercial or military planes. Coleman died at the age of 34 while flying a new aircraft for testing. A public library, several roads, and a middle school in Texas, California, Illinois, Florida, Germany and Paris have been named after Bessie Coleman. Her determination to beat not one, but three obstacles as a Native and African American woman to make history must be made inspiration for new generations of Texans as a high school name.

Reference: The National Aviation Hall of Fame, http://www.nationalaviation.org/our-enshrinees/coleman-bessie/


ANGELINA EBERLY
(1798-1860)

An innkeeper who singlehandedly protected Austin’s status as the capital of Texas. In 1842, Eberly fired a six-pound cannon into the General Land Office Building to catch the public’s attention to the fact that then-President Sam Houston was secretly having the historical archives of the Republic of Texas be relocated from Austin to Houston. Consequent conflict, known today as the Texas Archive War, was won by Austinites, which led to the sustainment of Austin as the capital city of Texas. As depicted by a statute of her heroic act in downtown Austin today, Angelina Eberly is a towering figure in Austin history with her courage, sense of responsibility and love for Austin.

Reference: The Handbook of Texas Online, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/feb02


HENRY B. GONZÁLEZ
(1916-2000)

A first generation Mexican American who taught himself English, González got all of his formal education in Texas, and then embarked upon a political career with half a century of service to minority rights. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, San Antonio College and St. Mary’s University-San Antonio; González served as a civilian technician for the US Military intelligence during the WWII. In 1953, he became the first Mexican American elected to San Antonio City Council and served as mayor pro-tempore for part of his first term. In this role, he campaigned against segregation of public facilities. In 1956, he became the first Mexican American senator in Texas in at least 110 years at the time, and the following year he attracted national attention when he and Sen. Abraham Kazen mounted the longest filibuster in the history of the Texas legislature (36 hours) to successfully kill eight of the ten racial segregation bills aimed at circumventing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. In 1961, González became the first Mexican American from Texas who was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He served in the house for 37 years, and his ardent commitment to social democracy landed him on what at times seemed to be quixotic fights such as calling for the impeachment of three Republican presidents (Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush). He helped pass a number of bills that ended legalized discrimination of minorities, including the Housing Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1994, González won the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library for his investigations of the savings and loan sector and the Iraq scandal. A convention center in San Antonio is named in his honor.

Reference: Texas State Historical Association, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgo76


HERMINE D. TOBOLOWSKY
(1921-1995)

A University of Texas Law School graduate and an attorney and state senator from Dallas, Tobolowsky took a seminal role in ending institutionalized discrimination of women in Texas law. She successfully campaigned the state legislature, and organized communities for 25 years in order to amend or repeal more than 30 laws in Texas that had discriminated against minorities. Her ardent pursuit of social justice led her to be nicknamed “Mother of the Texas Equal Rights Amendment”, and the University of Texas established a Hermine Tobolowsky Award in her honor in 1982. Tobolowsky’s stern commitment to gender equality should inspire new generations of Texans for social democratic sensitivity.

Reference: Texas Archival Resources Online, Hermine Tobolowsky:
An Inventory of Her Papers, 1932-1995 and undated, at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ttusw/00028/tsw-00028.html

 

AZIE MORTON
(1936-2003)

First African American to serve as United States treasurer. Born in Dale, TX to a hearing and speech impaired single mother, Morton was raised by her maternal grandparents for Morton to be able to go to a high school that accepted African Americans. She graduated from Texas Blind, Deaf and Orphan School in Austin at the age of 16, and then from Huston-Tillotson College with cum laude when she was 20 years old. Her application to graduate school at the University of Texas was denied with an explanation that she hadn’t taken enough undergraduate courses -when she applied to take undergraduate courses, her application was denied again due to the university not enrolling African Americans at the time.

Morton’s career included roles such as a teacher for delinquent girls, administrative assistant, community relations specialist for the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, complaint investigator and conciliator for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and special assistant to the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed her as the Treasurer of the United States. During her four year tenure, she was responsible for the receipt and custody of government funds; and her signature was printed on the U.S. Dollar. Morton later worked as an observer for presidential elections in Haiti, Senegal, and the Dominican Republic; and as a representative to the first African/African American Conference held in Africa. Morton was part of the American delegation sent to Rome for the enthronement of Pope John Paul II and chaired a People to People Mission to China and the Soviet Union.

After government service, Morton worked for an investment firm in Washington, DC and then returned to Austin in the early 1990s to become the President of Exeter Capital Asset Management Company and to co-own and operate an independent bookstore that served Huston-Tillotson students. Morton also served on the boards of directors of HIV-VAC, a Nevada corporation involved in HIV research; the Austin-based Schlotzsky's Deli; Wendy's Hamburgers; Citizens Funds, a mutual funds company; St. Edward's University; the nonpartisan National Democratic Institute that worked to strengthen democratic institutions worldwide; and the Austin Children's Museum. She also served on the Austin Housing Authority Board of Commissioners from 1999 to 2001. The housing authority established a scholarship fund in Morton’s name after her death and donated $5,000 to award scholarships to low-income students attending Huston-Tillotson University.

Reference: Texas State Historical Association, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmoag


BILL MOYERS
(1934-)

A Texas native who is widely considered to be a living legend in American public journalism. After completing his studies at North Texas State College and the University of Texas at Austin, Moyers embarked upon a remarkable career of investigative journalism, public broadcasting and political commentary, which also included government service in Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. Moyers, today at the age of 83, continues to take the attention of the American public to structural issues in the country such as commercialization of mainstream media, growing income and wealth disparity, and corporate influence on politics. His relentless commitment to American public interest and campaign against corporate media as an obstacle to democracy should inspire young Texans for service to their state and the country.

Reference: "Mimi Swartz, " The Mythic Rise of Billy Don Moyers: From Marshall, Texas, he set off on a heroic journey: to become LBJ's protégé, the conscience of TV news, and the prophet of a brand-new faith," November 1989". Texas Monthly. Retrieved March 7, 2014. https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/the-mythic-rise-of-billy-don-moyers/



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