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‘Greatly offensive’ | Members of Congress, NAACP demand lake in Baytown be renamed

“This is derogatory to our children and it fuels and perpetuates that racism is okay,” Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis said at a news conference Monday.

BAYTOWN, Texas — Several community leaders in Houston are pushing to rename Negrohead Lake in Baytown.

NAACP President Dr. James Dixon said the name is embarrassing and insulting to citizens whose tax dollars are used to maintain the lake.

“This is derogatory to our children and it fuels and perpetuates that racism is okay,” Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis said at a news conference Monday.

 The name was even worse back in the early 60s.

“Initially, they used the N word that I won't use on television,” Ellis said.

It’s a fight that started more than three decades ago. Ellis, then a state senator, co-sponsored a bill to remove racially offensive names from publicly owned property in Texas.

“It's hard to change people's heart,” Ellis said. “The bill was approved in Texas but became difficult to pass on the federal level.”

The NAACP wants the name changed to Henry Doyle Lake after the first black graduate of TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

Now, congressional leaders have joined the fight.             

“I find the utilization of the word “negro” to denote a person of African ancestry to be greatly offensive,” U.S. Rep. Al Green said. “It connotes a caricature of human inferiority reminiscent of a bygone era when blackness was defined by a predominantly white power structure.”

"If we are a people that don't remember our history - and that is of people of all colors - we are doomed to repeat the ugliness of racism again,” U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said.

The lake is in Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s precinct. Garcia said he plans to introduce a resolution to change the name at Commissioner’s Court on Tuesday.

“It's one thing to be hateful; it's another thing to use resources to spread that hate,” the precinct one commissioner said.

Baytown Mayor Brandon Capetillo said he’s also on board. He vowed city council will discuss a resolution to support the new name on Thursday.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names will have the final say.

The push for a new name is part of a broader effort to change all racially insensitive names on 39 Texas landmarks.

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