Remarks to the Houston ISD School Board on Thursday, February 9, 2017
Black History Month is a time to honor African Americans who fought for equality and equity. With regard to public education, I immediately think of people like Jake Yates, Hattie Mae White and Booker T. Washington.
Would you imagine honoring the memory of someone who went on record to say that the acronym – NAACP - should stand for The National Association for the Agitation of Colored People, that Rosa Parks was just a paid protester or that African Americans who protested at lunch counters around Harris County were simply trying to create an issue? What if I told you that this prominent figure once served on THIS very school board and fought relentlessly for decades AGAINST desegregation in HISD?
This person did everything in his power as a trustee to prevent biracial desegregation committees to be formed in order to aid HISD in the desegregation process.
This person was James M. Delmar, a former HISD Trustee.
In no uncertain terms, James Delmar was adamantly opposed to public school desegregation. He and other like-minded people in Houston fought for decades to resist and ignore the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education in order to continue separating children in HISD based on race. Many of his public comments around desegregation have been captured in HISD board minutes from the 1950s and more information can be learned about him in this book – Make Haste Slowly: Moderates, Conservatives, and School Desegregation in Houston. He wasn’t a confederate solider who lived in another state-he was a Houston resident who fought integration for years from this very school board dais.
Tomorrow, HISD will be holding a dedication ceremony at the new Delmar Fieldhouse. Yes, in 2017 during black history month and in the beautifully diverse city of Houston you will be memorializing, a documented racist, James M Delmar for his dedication to the children of HISD. Or rather the white children of HISD.
Following the ceremony tomorrow afternoon, several of our high school boys will be playing basketball in what is called the "Delmar Fieldhouse Inaugural Games." What would you say to the students from Yates, Lamar or Booker T. Washington tomorrow if they asked you about James Delmar?
You may all be at Delmar Fieldhouse celebrating its grand opening tomorrow, but I won’t be. Instead I’ll be at home wishing that the HISD board of trustees had changed the name of this building like several other buildings that were named after people who did not support equity for all children in HISD.