June 17, 2020 422 PM
Do we need to rename Fort Davis?
In 1854, the new fort was named for Jefferson Davis when he was secretary of war (1853-1857) –– and not to commemorate his tenure as Confederate president. Perhaps the officers in command were buttering up the cabinet secretary in the hope of getting better funding. Davis famously backed the plan to station camels at Fort Davis, figuring they would be good for use as pack animals in the West Texas desert.
The name, Davis, was taken by the neighboring town, which became the county seat of Presidio County in 1850. County voters moved the seat to Marfa in 1885, but Davis citizens demanded a new county. Jeff Davis County was marked off in 1887, with Fort Davis again a county seat. And then there are the Davis Mountains, formerly the Limpia Mountains, the wonderful “sky island” of the Trans-Pecos. Are we going to change all these names after 150 years?
While many are understandably uncomfortable with memorials to the Confederate leaders, the Fort Davis name predates the Civil War. Does it make a difference that Jefferson Davis was never convicted of treason? “Repentance must precede the right of pardon, and I have not repented,” he said in 1881. However, he was included in a general pardon by President Andrew Johnson, although forbidden to hold office by the 14th Amendment. And then in 1978, Congress passed a resolution restoring his full citizenship, signed by President Carter. The text read, “Congress officially completes the long process of reconciliation.”
We could use a lot of reconciliation right now.
I want to thank you for your front-page coverage of the Black Lives Matter march. I was unable to attend, and thus I appreciated your reporting by Abbie Perrault and the photos by Maisie Crow. Your coverage helped me feel a part of this important social movement, which touches us all. We are all one. You are serving multiple West Texas communities by reporting on an Alpine event which, sadly, was poorly reported in Alpine and not covered in the Fort Davis newspaper. The march, which drew more than 300 people, received better coverage in New York than in Alpine.
In COVID-19 isolation, I have taken advantage of extra time at home to read writings of Black leaders. I was particularly moved by the April 16, 1963, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr. He wrote: “I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
This is a request for people who have traveled here from out of the area: please be considerate of the people who live here and wear a mask, at least in the grocery stores.
Buying groceries is essential and not optional for most locals, many who wear masks do it to help keep you safer. I believe it is a small thing to ask. Let’s play it safe.