DETROIT (WXYZ) — At Cass Technical High School, life-long Detroiters are weighing in on the school’s name and it’s significance, as well as if it should be changed. The school is named after Lewis Cass, a former slave owning governor who was also behind the Indian Removal Act.
“A lot of the focus has been on Mr. Lewis as a slave owner. Many miss the opportunity to see he was a teacher. He was looking ahead and Cass Tech was built to educate students,” says 1986 graduate Monique Bryant. Bryant now spends time as one of many volunteers cleaning up the area near the school.
She adds, “For me and the majority of alumni, the name must remain intact. Not only for me, but those coming behind us.”
However there are many with an opposing view including Pastor Mo, a Detroit activist who often speaks out in matters involving civil rights.
“Changing the name may hurt a little for some alumni but think about the future," Pastor Mo said. "It's also is a teaching moment for people today that history will catch up to you. Don’t fall on the wrong side of history. Changing the name is symbolic of changing the attitude.”
In part of a statement, a spokesperson for the district says generations have developed a different history associated with the school, other than the negative impact of its namesake.
At this time, the district has no plans to change the Cass Tech name, but they are aware of the debate that continues.