A few weeks ago, I wrote a heavy column about race, police and athletics. The climate called for it, and I'm glad I wrote it.
But when I left the office that day, I felt like I missed some topics that could have gone into the column. There were so many more thoughts running through my head, it felt like I could have written another 1,000 words.
Fast-forward a few weeks, and I have more of what I feel I need to speak on. So hop in for the ride.
In the last few years, a phenomenon known to some as "cancel culture" has swept across the United States. Either a person, a group of people, or a company do or say something controversial and the internet/social media come together in an effort to try and get them "canceled," which effectively means their brand is pretty much erased.
If an individual had a job and said something racist, social media would find out enough information about them to get them fired. Television stations would lose advertisers, restaurants would lose customers, so on and so forth.
Can this culture go crazy sometimes? Sure. Will people dig up tweets from someone's past and use them against that person in an effort to get them canceled? Possibly. But that specific subject is one that I will save for another column.
What I want to do is differentiate between canceling someone or something, and righting wrongs. You see, the last couple of months have been unlike any that I've experienced in all my time alive. People are protesting police brutality and racism and changes are being made. Maybe not as quickly as we all would like, but it's better than the alternative.
Some of the most visible changes have been statues being forcibly taken down and the names of schools being changed because of their connections to the Confederacy. There are people out there who support and proudly show off the Confederate flag and defend it by saying that it's "Heritage, not hate."
Here's the thing about that: Just about every root cause as to why the Confederacy wanted to secede from the Union involves slavery. Was the Confederacy fighting for state's rights? Yes, but the right to do what? Own slaves. If the Confederacy had its way, slavery would probably still be alive and well today and I definitely would not be in a position to write this column.
So it is frustrating to do research and see that multiple Southland Conference schools are named after questionable characters.
There have been so many schools that have put out social media posts in solidarity with Black people, failing to realize the history that goes against what they are posting.
On June 19, also known as Juneteenth, the holiday that celebrates the emancipation of Black slaves in the United States, the Nicholls State University Twitter account put out a nice tweet that mentioned the anniversary of the slaves being freed in Galveston, Texas, in 1865. The last part of the tweet read: "At Nicholls State University, we are committed to being part of the solution."
That's very nice except for one major problem: the school is named after Francis T. Nicholls, who served as a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army in the Civil War. So the school is tweeting out solidarity to its Black students, while being named after someone who would have rather had their ancestors enslaved.
While Nicholls is the most egregious of the named SLC schools, it is far from the only one with questionable history. Stephen F. Austin may have morally been against slavery, but he thought it was good from a socioeconomic and political standpoint. Austin owned slaves at points during his life and worked to expand slavery.
Mirabeau Lamar was a racist who not only owned slaves, he also ordered attacks against Native American tribes while he served as the president of Texas. Sam Houston chose not to fight in the Confederate army and opposed secession, but he was still a slaveholder in his life. He might be the least bad out of the four names I mentioned, but owning slaves is still owning slaves.
Austin, Sam Houston and Lamar not only have their names on universities, but plenty of secondary schools in Texas and even one near and dear to Southwest Louisiana.
I did look up John McNeese and could not find anything linking him to owning slaves, and learned that he was a soldier in the Union army.
There are so many buildings, schools and landmarks with names linked to people of questionable character, that I could write about it forever. The point is, it's not canceling the name or erasing the history to ask that these places be renamed.
Thinking about it from the Black perspective will leave you realizing that life would be much different if the Confederacy had its way, and it wouldn't be a positive for us. Right the wrongs that should have never gotten to 2020. You don't see American buildings or schools named after Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, do you?
Also, while I'm at it, Lake Charles needs to get rid of that "The South's Defenders" monument that's outside of the courthouse for all the reasons I've stated.
If you think that I'm bowing to "cancel culture" then that's fine. Truthfully, I don't care. We, as Black people, deserve the peace of going somewhere just like other people do and not seeing a gruesome history thrown in our face.
Helping make change involves seeing things through a different prism than your own.
David Berry covers McNeese State athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org