Members of the Project 21 black leadership network condemned an effort by the Detroit, Michigan school board to rename the Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine, saying the move “devalues black achievement” and “ignores hope and history.”
“This is another misguided effort by liberals to erase history,” said Gregory Parker of Project 21. “The Detroit school board had no problem with the name of the school before Dr. Carson became active in politics.”
“Now that he does not conform to the ideal liberal plantation image of a black man and he plays a prominent role in the Trump Administration, he offends their hypersensitive, self-righteous and morally corrupt sensibilities,” said Parker.
Project 21 is a conservative public policy group that works to “make America a better place for African-Americans, and all Americans, to live and work.”
According to The Detroit News, the school board of Detroit voted 6-1 on Nov. 13 to consider renaming “several buildings in the district.” The Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine was among them.
Ben Carson is the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the administration of President Donald Trump. He is also a former presidential candidate, a best selling author, and a pediatric neurosurgeon who famously separated twin babies who were born conjoined at the head.
Former President George W. Bush awarded Carson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2008 for his “skills as a surgeon, high moral standards, and dedication to helping others.”
According to the school’s website, Carson, who grew up in inner-city Detroit, was chosen as “a role model for students with aspirations and interests in science and medical fields” and as a reminder to students that “their career dreams are achievable.”
The school also highlights Carson’s “professional and personal formula for success,” which it says is “embedded” in its core beliefs and values.
Project 21 member Diante Johnson emphasized Carson’s message of encouragement to young people.
“Over the years, Dr. Carson has sent a message to youth that – regardless of skin color – the sky is the limit and everyone is free to aspire to be whatever they want to be,” Johnson said.
Marie Fischer-Wyrick of Project 21 said having Carson’s name on the school is “an inspiration to all of its students,” and added that removing it is “a sad example of the crabs-in-a-barrel mentality that still permeates much of the black community.”
According to outgoing Detroit school board member LaMar Lemmons, however, Carson has “disgraced himself” through his involvement with Trump. Lemmons told The Washington Post that he “regularly” receives letters from the Detroit community asking the board to rename the school, and that having Carson’s name on the school is “synonymous with having Trump’s name on our school in blackface.”
Lemmons added that Carson is “doing Trump’s bidding, and he has adversely affected the African American community in Detroit as well as the nation with his housing policies. And he’s allied himself with a president that says he is a white nationalist and sends dog whistles that even the deaf can hear.”
Parker argued that political associations are not a good reason to remove Carson’s name.
“Dr. Carson’s accomplishments and successes as a surgeon and advocate for getting a good education do not change because he works for this president,” Parker said.
Johnson echoed that view, pointing out that “accomplishments are permanent.”
“To want to remove an honor rooted in Dr. Carson’s accomplishments because of political differences or associations puts us at a sad time in history,” Johnson said.