By all means, change the name of that school

Amarillo’s public school trustees have made the correct call in initiating the process of changing the name of a school identified with someone who sought to overthrow the government of the United States of America.

I refer to Lee Elementary School, once named Robert E. Lee Elementary School. Amarillo Independent School District trustees, feeling the heat over other communities’ struggles with monuments and buildings named after the Confederate Army general, decided to drop the “Robert E.” from the name, believing that would soften the impact of the general’s presence.

Now the name “Lee” is coming off the campus altogether. The AISD board is going to consider some suitable replacement.

This is a good call.

For starters, the school serves a predominantly African-American neighborhood. Why did Gen. Lee join with his native Virginia in seeking to overthrow the government during the Civil War? Well, because the Confederate States of America wanted the right to continue holding human beings — African-Americans — in bondage. They were slaves! Properties of their white masters!

Amarillo’s history is full of pioneers who were champions of public education, or they helped settle the region, or helped build the community. AISD’s elementary, middle, junior high and high schools already carry names of significance to Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle. They haven’t used ’em all up!

As for Gen. Lee, his name belongs in museums dedicated to explaining why he decided to go to war against the Union. It doesn’t belong on the side of a building serving a neighborhood full of descendants of those he and his Confederate comrades sought to enslave.

As AISD trustee John Ben Blanchard, who resigned from the board this week, said: “My hope is that the name of Lee Elementary will be changed to something that is not divisive or offensive to our community.”

It’s my hope, too.

One thought on “By all means, change the name of that school”

  1. You need to study your United States History about Slavery. While you are villifing Robert E. Lee for fighting not specifically for slavery, but because of the economics of an oppressive and industrialized North vs a Agrarian South. The issue was State’s Rights and economic equality. Slavery, unfortunately was an economic issue, and I don’t defend it

    Robert E. Lee is being treated unfairly. We aren’t vilifying George Washington or Thomas Jefferson who were also slave holders.

    Robert E. Lee’s family or Virginia were slave holders, but Robert E. Lee freed his slaves when he joined the U.S. Army in 1825 (40 years before the Civil War.) Lee married Mary Custis who brought her own slaves into the marriage. Mary Custis was the granddaughter of Martha Washington.

    Lee joined the Confederate Army over the issue of State’s Rights. He was defending his Homeland.

    While Washington and Jefferson were slave holders, I don’t see their names taken off schools and monuments because of being slave owners.

    Let’s look at Texas History. When Moses and Stephen F. Austin acquired the rights to bring settlers into Texas, the settlers were allotted 80 acres for a wife and 80 acres for each slave brought with them. Yes, Stephen F. Austin was a slave owner. So was Sam Houston. Yet no one is clamoring to have their names removed from schools and monuments torn down.

    Also look at the origin of African Slaves. If a tribe in Africa wanted land and access to game, they would war against another tribe and if they won, would take the land and sell what was left of the defeated tribe into slavery. Blacks selling blacks into slavery. For some reason this is being conveniently over looked.

    We need to look at this as a history lesson. Where American came from and where it needs to go. We need to bring the blacks (and other races) into equality. Destroying our history will not unite us, but instead divide us. The Civil War officially ended over 250 years ago. Yet it is still being fought, but now on three fronts instead of two fronts.

    The press (that includes you) needs to end this conflict….. not goad it on.

    Tell the whole truth for a change and urge everyone to start working together for a better United States of America and not continue promoting a Divided States of America just because conflict makes better news.

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