A Detroit school honoring Dr. Ben Carson may be renamed, and activists with the Project 21 Black leadership network criticize the effort as a purely political act which willfully ignores the accomplishments and charitable acts of the famous Detroit native who now serves as the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“This is another misguided effort by liberals to erase history. The Detroit school board had no problem with the name of the school before Dr. Carson became active in politics. Now that he does not conform to the ideal liberal plantation image of a Black man and he plays a prominent role in the Trump Administration, he offends their hypersensitive, self-righteous and morally corrupt sensibilities,” said Project 21 member Gregory Parker, an author and former county commissioner in Texas. “Dr. Carson’s accomplishments and successes as a surgeon and advocate for getting a good education do not change because he works for this President. His accomplishments will forever serve as a testament to courage and strength for all people – Black and White.”
“If Ben Carson’s “projects-to-presidential appointee” name isn’t worthy to remain on a Detroit school, it proves why his hometown is a self-inflicted wasteland,” added Project 21 member Nadra Enzi, a public safety activist in New Orleans. “Detroit school board members are trying to score symbolic political points while their city literally implodes from epidemic crime and decay.”
The Detroit Public Schools Community District Board of Education voted recently 6-1 to consider renaming the Dr. Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine. Earlier this year, the board instituted a new policy allowing buildings to be renamed for reasons including that “information newly discovered about the current name of the school is negative in nature.” School board member LaMar Lemmons told the Washington Post that he thinks Dr. Carson’s name “is synonymous with having [President Donald] Trump’s name on our school in blackface” and that the famous surgeon, education advocate, author, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and presidential candidate has “disgraced himself” by serving in the Trump Administration.
Other school buildings – including the Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men, named after the famous Black abolitionist – are also under consideration for name changes. Next steps in the process include community meetings and studies before the school system’s superintendent makes a final recommendation to the school board.
“We are living in Orwellian times when a school board wants to remove the name of a man who rose from poverty to become a world-famous surgeon and member of a presidential cabinet. Yet in Baltimore, they named a recreation center after Freddie Gray – an alleged drug dealer who died in police custody,” said Marie Fischer-Wyrick, a political activist in Maryland. “Having Dr. Carson’s name on that school is an inspiration to all of its students that they can become whatever they set their minds to. Removing it in this manner says to me that officials might not really care if these children have a better life. It is a sad example of the crabs-in-a-barrel mentality that still permeates much of the black community.”
The school was named to honor Dr. Carson in 2013. It features a college preparatory curriculum that is “devoted to guiding students toward discovering their career potential while visualizing themselves as college graduates.” The school’s website notes that it “aims to honor the contributions Dr. Carson has made not only to the global medical community, but also as a role model for Detroit students with aspirations and interests in science and medical fields.” It notes that his “journey from impoverished, inner-city Detroit youth to acclaimed neurosurgeon is remarkable and is a constant reminder to Benjamin Carson students that their career dreams are achievable,” and that his “professional and personal formula for success… [is] embraced by the school community and embedded in the school’s core beliefs and values.”
“Accomplishments are permanent. To want to remove an honor rooted in Dr. Carson’s accomplishments because of political differences or associations puts us at a sad time in history,” said Project 21 member Diante Johnson, who is also president of the Black Conservative Federation. “Over the years, Dr. Carson has sent a message to youth that – regardless of skin color – the sky is the limit and everyone is free to aspire to be whatever they want to be.”
“We need to promote positive role models such as Dr. Ben Carson and not erase them from our youngsters’ minds,” said Project 21 member Emery McClendon, a Tea Party organizer. “Focusing on the accomplishments of one of the greatest surgeons of our time is a motivating factor that instills positive goals in our students.”