The We Are Dixie Position
In August 2018 a small group of politically-driven activists from Southern Marin and outside of our school district launched an aggressive campaign to change the name of our established and well-respected 150+ year old school district. The school board voted 4-1 in the November board meeting to let the community vote in the 2020 election to weigh in on if the name should be changed or not.(click here for information on the 1 rogue board member) The Change The Name (CTN) group is doing anything and everything they can to stop a democratic vote and instead trying to strong arm the current school board to change the name without listening to the local voters. They are also reaching out to the national press and bringing unwanted outside attention to our sleepy community. We feel the CTN group are not looking out for our community in any way, shape, or form.
We would like to ask the Dixie School Board to consider if they will vote for this name change as politicians or instead as voices for our community and make them part of a very big decision. They will need to choose if they want to listen to their constituents of if they want to bypass them. It is our opinion that not a single child will receive any tangible benefit from a name change. However, our children will learn that if you stir up enough emotion, facts and logic will not matter.
We Are Dixie believes the district was named after a Miwok Indian woman and the CTN group thinks it was named after the geographic southern region of the United States. There are many other stories about how the name came to be as well but none have been authenticated, including the confederacy theory.
Our School Board may be surprised when listening to our community since many people are afraid to speak out because they are scared to be labeled racist, lose business, be the next target on the Change The Name group’s list to twist their words and make them seem like something they are not, or to jeopardize their government or public jobs. The CTN group has been very ugly in their endeavor and our www.WeAreDixie.org website highlights what they say on social media and do in public and shows the lengths they will go to in order to get their way including labeling our community as a confederate outpost and our community members racist. It has not been a community driven campaign. It has hurt, not helped our schools and children.
If our community votes in the 2020 election and it is deemed that the community wants to change the name then we are fine with that decision. We do feel that the board needs to first listen to the constituents that voted for them first and make this matter one for the community to work together on but if the school board decides to not listen to the community and instead give into the loud bully tactics of the CTN group then it could divide and inflame our community even more.
The name Dixie has been used for over 450 years and predates the confederacy by 300 years. There are 23 cities in the US and Africa/Australia that are currently named Dixie as well as a national park, other school districts and schools, a university, streets, transit stations, grocery stores, many companies and stores which include fortune 500 or publicly traded, and 56,000 US citizens (7400 of which are African American) have the first name Dixie and almost 300 US Citizens have the last name Dixie (almost 100% of these people are African American.) In England a Dixie is a large pot for cooking or a lookout. In France parents name their 10th born Dixie as a common practice.
The good name of James Miller who built and named the school and district are being dragged through the mud in order to make a political statement and to be the first people in the US to change the name Dixie on a public place. History does not show our school was named to demean or oppress anybody. Mr Miller also built a local orphanage, never owned slaves or lived in a county that had slaves, and to our knowledge has an impeccable reputation. He was just a hardworking Irishman who came to the us via French Canada. He took in 2 Indian youngsters and raised them as part of his household. he named the Truckee river after a Miwok Chief, and lived in the same area as the Miwok Dixie Family in the Gold Country. He even had descendants who grew up in Murphy’s CA where Mary Dixie lived who today say that it is not known that James Miller “cared one bit for the Southern point of view of the confederacy.”
The Dixie Family was a Native Miwok Family in Vallecito near Murphy’s CA. whom had the Dixie name over 30 years before the confederacy as per the census and there is high chance that Miller Family had contact with them since he lived there for 1 year and his family founded the area where the Dixie family lived. As for the name Dixie being a colonized Miwok name, Marin and Novato are both named after baptized Indians. Why is it so implausible that Dixie was named as well after a Miwok person since the area was Miwok land?
The name Dixie does not equate to the statues of confederate generals or soldiers. Those statues celebrated people that did bad things to others they did not represent a region where something bad happened. With this logic we need to change the name of Germany, Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, Ukraine, etc. Nobody has ever tried to erase an areas history by banning the use of the name of the area because they felt it harmed people. An area can bring up thoughts of the past but the geographic area never did anything bad to another person. The CTN group wants to erase history by banning the use of the name Dixie. Do they also now feel that the music Dixieland Jazz which was named and created by the Blacks in the south should be banned as well and now it should be called something else? Should we ban Dixie paper products? Should we not play the music from the female African American Group “The Dixie Cups” ? Where does it stop?
If the word Dixie hurts some in our community then why would we not use the same logic to remove the name San Rafael since the Mission San Rafael colonized thousands of local Miwok Indians oppressed and enslaved by the missionaries or changing the name of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. or high school since he was a slave trader? How about White Hill Middle school in Fairfax? Where does it stop?
Dolly Parton removed the word “Dixie” from her dinner show which she was looking to expand to other areas only because there was backlash that her show did not portray the true Dixie Land South since it did not depict slavery or the suffering of blacks and it was instead “a lily-white kitsch extravaganza that play-acts the Civil War but never once mentions slavery.”. Instead of changing the show she changed the name in order to expand to new cities and take away confusion as to what the show was about. The CTN group is stating that she changed it because she did not like the word Dixie which is not what our understanding is.
In France the name Dixie is applied to the 10th born child, James miller lived in Quebec where they speak French and had 10 kids that were all born when he named the Dixie School. Is it plausible that he named the district after his 10 kids with a French name since he built the school for his children and the other kids in the area? We think it is definitely plausible.
We already have over 1250 signatures on our online and in person petitions and can easily get more rapidly. Our supporters are LOCAL and not from out of the area like the CTN group.
How does changing the name of the school district help anyone? From what we see it will only take funds away from the district and make no impact whatsoever except to make a few activists feel good. Will it help struggling families that need the financial support from the schools to help feed and educate their children and to give them opportunities to enrich their lives? Will it stop people from calling the police if they see a black youth walking down the street with a hooded sweatshirt on? Will it stop children from saying hurtful and shameful things? Someone will always be offended by something where do we stop? We Are Dixie feels that this “feel good” endeavor is a huge waste of time and effort. Some people have sensitized themselves to be offended by everything.
We do not feel this is a human rights issue. Our community members will not have any more or less rights if the name of our district and school is changed. Our community will continue to be kind and welcoming to all colors and creeds and we feel that the lack of diversity in our county has nothing to do with our small district’s name. Other areas of Marin have similar demographics. Also, the name Dixie is used very commonplace throughout the country and world on public institutions, streets, towns, state parks, companies, jazz music, bands, people’s first and last names, grocery stores, and more. It is a very common word and not used to demean anyone.
Several people on the CTN side have recently moved into our community within the past 5 years knowing the district name and in fact moved here because of the school district. Now they are stating that the name is hurtful to them? They had a choice of where to live so why did they move into a school district with their children if they felt the very name of the district was hurtful? We feel there was not a problem until the outside political figures in the CTN group created one. There are many people stating that they assume the word hurts people, some that say the name is strange, that it reminds them of the slavery and human suffering in the country’s history, etc. and others that say it reminds them of a woman’s name or the name of their family pet. Our school district is more ethnically diverse than most others in Marin County and we acknowledge each school in Marin and throughout the country has issues with children being insensitive to other children which is not acceptable but these situations have nothing to do with the district name.
We feel this will have a deep financial impact on our school district. While the CTN group thinks it will cost only $30,000 to change the name of the district and one of it’s schools we feel it will cost upwards of $100,000-$175,000 based on our research for costs of other districts and elementary schools that have gone through a name change. You can see our research here. This name change not only affects our district and one of the schools but ALSO our local sports teams such as the Dixie Youth Soccer League. Who is going to pay for these changes? The CTN group has stopped fundraising (with only $1800 pledged) and has stated the district should pay for the name change.
The financial impacts will expand past the actual costs to change the name, especially if the school board decides to forgo a public vote. Many in the community feel this is a waste of valuable time and money and may decide to not financially contribute or advertise with the district if they feel the school district does not care about their thoughts and feelings or that the school district is so flush that they can spend money on unnecessary feel good acts. Results from fundraisers may become more lackluster if the community is bypassed in an important financial decision and more seniors may opt to take a tax exemption. The community may speak out in these silent ways to communicate their dissatisfaction with the School Board not caring about what their feelings are. The financial ramifications to the board chosing to not listen to it’s constituents could be quite significant.
Why do we want to keep the name Dixie? The Dixie School District has proudly been built by 4 generations of local families that have sent their children to the school and have worked hard to make the Dixie name synonymous with excellence in education and community. To many in our multicultural district Dixie is part of a legacy of excellence that has been community driven. Our large 1500 home local Eichler community was one of the first in the area to have a non discrimination policy in the 1950’s and we have always been very proud of that heritage. Taking the voice away from the generations of locals that have volunteered in our schools, worked on fundraising, donated school supplies, made sure underprivileged children were taken care of, served lunch, headed up classroom parties, gone on field trips, planted gardens, built structures pro-bono, etc. is not what our community is about. We hope that our school board sees that the name Dixie means good and positive things to many people in our community and not a name used to demean anyone. We request that the legacy not be wiped away without listening to the generations that built it.
We find it interesting that the very politicians that recently wrote letters to support the name change were fine with the name and NEVER tried to change it or joined Noah and Kerry’s campaign in the past to change it but now that they are elected officials they feel it is in THEIR best interest (not ours) to take a stand on the matter. Where were these politicians when their own kids went to school in the District district and when they were volunteering on the Dixie Youth Soccer league? Several of these politicians even sat on our school board for years or were married to our superintendent, and they said nothing and now they are jumping on the bandwagon in an attempt for more future votes.
The We Are Dixie group are all local parents who are doing what we think is best for our community. We are open to a name change if the community vs. a small group decides to change it. We are not politicians or activists like the CTN key members. We all work full time unlike most of the CTN key members. We do not have the time or wherewithal to spend countless hours drumming up support from politicians, but we all can agree that if we wanted to and had the time we would also be able to produce letters to give from politicians that feel this movement has gone too far. We did not reach out to the press because we care about our community and did not feel reaching out to the press was in the community’s best interest although we do feel most of the US would be shocked and stunned at the “problem” with our district name that has been created. Many could only wish for our first world issues that we have in our community. We are just a group of local parents trying to speak out for the community that has been targeted by a flavor of the month campaign and politicians attempting to gain a new platform for their next election.
We want the board to think about the tactics the CTN group is taking to hurt our community. Let the constituents vote on the matter and then the board may make their decision. There is a due process that should happen as to not hurt our community further. We ask the current school board to not give in to political pressure of a group of people that have outside interests. This is a local matter and our community should vote on something that affects us so very much both financially and emotionally.
It is our stance that there is no concrete evidence the school district was named on a dare after the confederacy, if it was named for the Miwok woman/Family Mary Dixie, if it was named after one of Mr. Millers cows, or named a French name after the 10 children he had when he built the school for them. LET OUR COMMUNITY DECIDE