Amarillo isn’t known as a community to get involved deeply in intense national debates.
So it is with some surprise that I have learned that the Amarillo Independent School District is considering whether to change the name of an elementary school named after a Confederate army general.
Robert E. Lee Elementary School is now in the AISD crosshairs, joining other such public structures that have been targeted in the wake of recent controversy surrounding the a sad and tragic chapter in our nation’s history.
Lee School sits in the middle of a largely African-American neighborhood. We all know, of course, who Robert E. Lee was. For those who don’t, I’ll just explain briefly: He was the commander of Confederate army forces that fought on the losing side of the American Civil War. Oh, and why did the Confederates fight against the United States of America? They wanted to break up the Union.
Those who fought for the Confederacy fought against the United States. By my way of looking at it, the Confederates were traitors. Do we honor them, therefore, by putting their names on public buildings?
So, AISD trustees next week are going to visit with legal counsel to discuss a possible name change. The decision to consider such a thing has met with approval from local NAACP leaders.
AISD building-naming policy follows that new schools are named after the neighborhood they serve. AISD does make some exceptions, such as naming a school in a largely black neighborhood after a man who fought to preserve slavery.
This issue came to a full boil in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., riot involving white supremacists, Klansmen and neo-Nazis who fought against counter protesters. It’s simmered down somewhat, but a serious national conversation has continued.
It has arrived in Amarillo, Texas.
AISD board president James Austin said he hasn’t yet made up his mind on whether to support a name change. That’s fine. Take your time, Mr. President.
I happen to think a name change is in order. But that’s just me.