Are there so few Latina/o leaders worthy of having a school named after them?
Last week I was in Houston to give a lecture at Rice University for the Mi Familia Vota student fellows. It was a return to my roots. In my younger years, I worked for the Houston Independent School District’s Research and Accountability Department during the tenure of Rod Paige (before he went to lead the US Department of Education).
I was also heavily involved with grassroots politics— block walking, registering voters and a variety of other activities with the Tejano Democrats. So it was a blast from the past when later that evening, I had a chance to visit with the Harris County Tejano Democrats at their membership reception. At the event, I was having a conversation with one of the Tejana community activists and she mentioned that in May 2016 the Houston Independent School District (HISD) renamed seven schools that were previously named after confederate supporters of slavery. She was annoyed that Jefferson Davis High School name was changed to Northside High School.
The Houston Independent School District is now majority Latina/o (about 63%). Northside High School is about 85% Latina/o… and the best name HISD could come up with was Northside High School?! Granted, one of the seven name changes was to Yolanda Black Navarro, a Houston community activist. But really? Only one school was name after a prominent Latina/o? I did some quick math and it appears that only about 5% of HISD schools bear the names of Latina/os.