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.