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Why Does Dallas Have A Street Named After A Human Trafficker And Slaveowner?

Why Does Dallas Have A Street Named After A Human Trafficker And Slaveowner?

A new campaign to change Akard Street in emerges in Dallas.

W.C.C. Akard was a wealthy merchant from Missouri. Akard married Sarah Bowen, whose family fought for the Confederate Army. During the early days of the Civil War, Union soldiers robbed and looted their homes, so they fled Missouri. Along with the Bowen family, Akard wound up in Dallas, Texas, in 1863. According to the 1860 slave census, Akard enslaved two children.

Akard’s father-in-law, Ahab Bowen, owned five people. There is also a street in Dallas named after him.

According to researcher and academic Edward H. Sebesta: during the Civil War, slaveholders sent their enslaved people to Texas to prevent their emancipation and fleeing to the American army lines. W.C.C. Akard fled to Dallas to keep his enslaved children from being emancipated. You can read Sebesta’s paper about Akard and Bowen HERE.

Why does it matter?

It’s just a street name. Besides, most residents and visitors of Dallas in 2022 don’t even know who W.C.C. Akard was.

Why should the street named after a long-forgotten man be changed?

Should human traffickers be honored with a street name? Because W.C.C. Akard was a human trafficker who trafficked children from Missouri to Texas to keep them enslaved.

A street name is not simply a reflection of history. It’s a publicly funded asset which bestows a high honor. These tributes should reflect the city and their values. Dallas is 41% Hispanic, 28% white, and 24% Black. Does the entire community of Dallas share values with a man who kept people for forced labor?

W.C.C. Akard fought to protect slavery and committed treason against the United States by siding with the Confederacy. Does honoring a person like this still have a place in our society?

What does the campaign want to change the street name to?

Lil Nas X Boulevard.

There’s a very specific reason for that. First of all, there are no streets in Dallas named after a Black gay man. Secondly, Vonciel Jones Hill.

Vonciel Jones Hill four-term was a Dallas councilwoman with a lengthy history of bigotry towards the LGBTQ community.

Recently, Jones Hill was nominated to the DART board (for the second time) by Dallas council members.

Here is why the Dallas Voice says Jones Hill has no place on that board:

During her time in office, she opposed anything the LGBT community did. She complained about HIV billboards in her district, although her district included areas that were hard-hit with HIV.

She voted against updating wording on city ordinances that were more inclusive of the trans community.

And she was the only council member to refuse to sign a letter welcoming people to Dallas for Pride weekend each year. She said she wouldn’t be supporting the LGBTQ community because of her beliefs then and she wouldn’t in the future. She has not made a statement changing that statement.

And, on top of that, in 2013, she said she was concerned about “African American men who engage in homosexual conduct as acceptable.”

Stonewall Dallas also spoke out against her nomination.

Even though Jones Hill has made her anti-LGBTQ well known, several Dallas councilmembers nominated her anyway.

She didn’t make it. The city council went with someone else. But it’s problematic she was nominated in the first place.

By changing Akard Street to Lil Nas X Boulevard, the City of Dallas would make two important and impactful statements to the community.

  1. We no longer honor white supremacists who enslaved and trafficked children.
  2. Dallas is all of our homes, and everyone belongs, no matter your color, gender, or sexual orientation.

You can join the efforts to rename Akard street to Lil Nas X Boulevard, on Facebook.

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