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Cass Tech doesn't plan on changing its name

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Posted at 8:30 AM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 08:38:38-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroit Cass Technical High School does not plan on changing its name, despite its namesake's past as a slave owner.

The prestigious school, like the now formerly Lewis Cass building in Lansing, was named after Michigan's territorial governor Lewis Cass. In fact, Cass's name is anchored in several places across the state, including Cass Avenue and the Cass Park Historic District in Detroit.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to rename the state-owned building the "Elliott-Larsen Building" in honor of the legislators who sponsored Michigan's civil rights act – the 1977 bill signed by Gov. William Milliken.

Whitmer said that no one can deny the role he played for the state, but added that Cass owned a slave and defended a system that would permit the expansion of slavery.

Yet, Cass Tech doesn't plan on changing its name, citing alumni having a "different history" with the school and have "strong feelings against changing the name."

"...the overwhelming sense among the School Board was that despite the negative history of the school’s namesake generations of Cass Tech alumni have developed a different history associated with the “Cass Tech” name and have strong feelings against changing the name, including Board Member Vaughn who is an alumnus of the school," according to Detroit Public Schools Community District spokesperson Chrystal Wilson.

Read the district's full statement below:

About two years ago when the School Board and Superintendent discussed school name changes the School Board was not interested in considering a name change for Cass Tech High School. Since that time the School Board created and passed a school name change policy and it has not been used by stakeholders to initiate a name change for Cass Tech High School. At the time of the discussion, the overwhelming sense among the School Board was that despite the negative history of the school’s namesake generations of Cass Tech alumni have developed a different history associated with the “Cass Tech” name and have strong feelings against changing the name, including Board Member Vaughn who is an alumnus of the school.