NAACP says it wants Baytown lake renamed because current name is offensive

BAYTOWN, Texas (KTRK) -- The NAACP is calling for the name of a lake in Baytown to be changed because the group said the current moniker, Negrohead Lake, is offensive.

U.S. Rep. Al Green (D- Houston) and several of Houston's elected officials are meeting Monday morning to formally propose the name be changed to "Lake Henry Doyle."

Henry Doyle was the first student to apply for the temporary law school for Black people set up at the University of Texas at Austin.

In 1946, a man named Heman Sweatt was denied admission to the University of Texas School of Law due to his race. He sued UT's president and other school officials.

But because Texas had no law school that admitted African Americans at the time, the state was given six months to establish a substantially equal law school.

That's when the state founded Texas State University for Negroes (TSUN), which established the temporary school in Austin that Doyle attended in the fall of 1947 while a permanent facility was built in Houston.

Courses were taught by faculty from UT's School of Law.

Doyle completed the first year. The school moved to Houston permanently when construction was complete in 1948.

Doyle would go on to continue his legal education in Houston at TSUN, which was later renamed Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. He passed the bar in Nov. 1949 and became TSUN's first law graduate in May 1950.

You can read more on the background of Doyle's legal education on UT's website.

The NAACP and local and state officials said, "the cause of freedom and equality requires the eradication of racism in every form; this includes the need to remove racially offensive names from public facilities, lakes, creeks, buildings and streets," which is why they are pushing for this change in collaboration with Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

Ellis co-sponsored House Bill 1756 in 1991, legislation that was designed to remove racially offensive names from the aforementioned public places and more.

In Sept. 2020, Rep. Green also co-sponsored federal legislation, H.R. 8455, that would change the process for the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

"These names continue to perpetuate the embarrassing legacy of discrimination, encouraging younger generations of Americans to adopt toxic values of racism and superiority," the NAACP said.

The organization will hold a briefing at 10 a.m.
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