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Monday, June 5, 2023

Staff Editorial

Can we please stop naming things after racist figures?


Photo collage by Josué Díaz

There comes a time during the evolution of cultures when we as a society reflect on our past and make a conscious decision about what sins we have in our history.

Slavery is one of the United States’ worst sins.

Undeniably, the idea of treating a human being as property is almost unfathomable to citizens of the United States today. However, less than 150 years ago we were all killing each other over slavery.

While the institution has been abolished, there are still racist remnants of it left in our culture, especially in the South.

This summer there was a massive uproar wherein people finally questioned why there were still Confederate flags everywhere. Similarly, if you take a good look around, there are still street signs, buildings and even college dormitories given names after historically racist figures.

Running through campus is Calhoun Road, a street named after former Vice President John C. Calhoun who was instrumental in annexing Texas into the United States.

Unfortunately, Calhoun is best known for his vehement assertion that slavery was a “positive good.”

In fact, his reason for wanting to annex Texas in the first place was because he believed that Texas’ annexation was imperative to preserving slavery in America.

The street itself was named by the city in the late 1800’s, so it’s understandable that Texans at the time weren’t privy to sympathy for African-Americans.

Knowing all this, The University of Houston should take the opportunity to reconsider giving Calhoun Lofts a name more suited toward a diverse, Tier One research university.

The name “Calhoun Lofts” was originally only supposed to be a placeholder and literally “became the name because it is located on Calhoun and the fact that they are lofts,” said Teeba Rose, marketing manager for student housing and residential life.

Yale University is also considering renaming one of its colleges that is named after Calhoun. Just a few blocks away, a movement has already started to rename Dowling Street because it is named after Confederate leader Richard Dowling.

In the heat of this Confederate flag backlash, now seems an appropriate time to consider removing this “placeholder” name and leave it to the students to decide. The fact that the newly built Lofts do not have a physical sign installed on the building makes that even more opportune.

People in South Carolina did not remove the confederate flag from their statehouse just because it offended some people; they did so because that flag represents a period in our history when we as a nation were divided over whether African-Americans should be treated as people or not.

Culture and tradition run deep in Texas, and some might disagree and say that we should still honor figures that helped make this state what it is today.

Tradition does not excuse something that carries a dark past with it.

-The Cougar Editorial Board

Should UH consider changing Calhoun Lofts name?

  • No, I don't care. (63%, 5 Votes)
  • Yes, it's offensive. (38%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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