Amarillo public school officials are about to jump with both feet into a national debate over the naming of public buildings after Confederate icons.
At issue is the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School, which sits in the midst of the city’s African-American community.
Amarillo Independent School District trustees are going to discuss on Monday whether to change the name of the school.
My own preference? Change the name.
This entire Confederate name-change discussion erupted in the wake of that riot in Charlottesville, Va., when counter protesters clashed with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen who gathered to protest the taking down of a statute of Gen. Lee.
The Amarillo NAACP chapter favors changing the name. No surprise there. NAACP chapter president Floyd Anthony says Gen. Lee’s name on a public building that serves a hugely African-American student body — and their parents — is a slap in the face to those residents.
He makes a good point.
Gen. Lee led the Confederate States of America army that fought against the United States of America. They committed an act of treason by seceding from the Union. Why did they secede? They fought to something called “states’ rights,” which was code for allowing states to continuing the enslavement of human beings.
They were black human beings.
The war killed 600,000 people. It was the bloodiest conflict in our nation’s history.
More than 150 years later, the vestiges of that war remain with these public monuments to the men who stood foursquare against the Union.
And spare me the “heritage” argument. The Confederate battle flag has become the very symbol of hate groups such as the KKK. Do we want to honor the Klan? I think not.
To the Amarillo ISD board members, I wish them good luck as they ponder their potentially huge decision.
I hope it’s the correct one.