I haven’t seen every scrap of social media chatter bouncing around Amarillo, Texas during the past couple of days.
What I have seen regarding an Amarillo Independent School District board non-decision has been — shall we say — less than flattering toward most of the board members.
The AISD board voted 4-3 the other night to “change” the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School to Lee Elementary School.
I believe Amarillo has just witnessed the unveiling of a profile in timidity, if not outright cowardice.
The school in question sits smack in the middle of a community that serves a significant population of African-Americans. Children attend a school that is named after a man — Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — who led a military effort to defeat the United States in a war that began over whether states could allow the ownership of slaves.
Gen. Lee’s name has been in the news of late. Communities have sought to remove statues commemorating this man who I and others consider to be a traitor to the United States of America. They rioted in Virginia because white supremacists, KKK’men and neo-Nazis protested attempts to remove a Robert E. Lee statue from a public park; the riot killed a young woman and injured scores of others. Moreover, it prompted an intense national discussion about how we commemorate the Confederate States of America.
AISD board members agreed to discuss and consider changing the name of the school. Then they choked. They fumbled. They missed their chance to send a powerful statement that this community would take a proactive step that removes the name of a national enemy from one of its public buildings.
“Lee Elementary” does not do a single thing to promote that notion.
So … here’s a thought. The AISD board represents a constituency that appears to oppose the non-decision the board made on the naming of a public school.
Perhaps the AISD board members can reflect just a bit on the nutty notion they thought would eliminate a community controversy.
This so-called “name change” didn’t do anything of the kind.
There’s not a single thing wrong with acknowledging a mistake, AISD trustees. Nor is there anything wrong with taking measures to repairing it.