ugg classic boots sale School board lets its moment slip away
The motion was to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary as just Lee Elementary. It was a planned compromise, and not exactly what most in attendance had in mind.
Blanchard, in his third term as a trustee, acknowledged this was a polarizing issue. He came into the meeting expecting to support a compromise of dropping the individual but keeping the name.
But perhaps the night listening to 18 of 24 speak in favor of removing the entire name and the historical framing of how this little elementary school got its name to begin with 66 years ago, swayed him.
me, it a matter of symbolism and healing, he said. now prepared to support a neighborhood name. was me. I knew Monday afternoon renaming the school Lee Elementary School was going to be the likely motion. It wouldn be my first option. Renaming the school for the Park Hills neighborhood seemed the best and logical choice.
But something was better than nothing, even if this something was a pretty tepid response. Maybe it would work as appeasement, as apparently there were some who attended Lee who didn want the name never mind the person to disappear.
I cringed during the public comments when Robert Lee was occasionally compared to Hitler. Lee was a complicated man, but he was no monster.
But, the fact is, he was the commanding general of the Confederate Army, who led a rebellion against the United States in the name of keeping black men and women as slaves. Read the secession documents. So, that a school that is only 6.4 percent white is named for Lee ought to be abhorrent.
When it came to a vote, it was 4 3 in favor of the motion. Board president Jim Austin, vice president F. Scott Flow, Cristy Wilkinson and Renee McCown voted in favor. Blanchard, John Betancourt and James Allen the lone black trustee voted against.
Much of the room cleared out. With the meeting continuing, what trustees did not see was a group that wasn so much angry as hurt, and it was people of all color.
extremely disappointed, profoundly disappointed, said Amy Taylor, community liaison for the NAACP. didn take the feelings of the community into account at all.
was a half step. It wasn even a compromise. I not even going so far as to call it a compromise because it wasn You can even put lipstick on this one. is a group, many of them older, who have felt largely disenfranchised most of their lives maybe not necessarily by a school board, but society in general. One who spoke Monday was Potter County Commissioner Alphonso Vaughn, who told me once of sitting in only sections of Amarillo theaters in the 1950s and 1960s.
This was a chance a rare chance to completely right a wrong.
felt patronized, said Floyd Anthony, Amarillo chapter NAACP president. was a complete slap in the face of the African American community. It was business as usual. Nothing has changed. This whole thing was orchestrated. more I thought about it, the more the keeping of the last name doesn work. It just doesn Lee well, who is that? Spike? Bruce? Well, it his name, you know, the person whose first name we dropped. But it not really his name, but maybe just a tiny bit. It like Abbott and Costello On First? tried to get cute in San Antonio in October with Robert E. Lee High School by keeping the as an acronym for of Educational Excellence. me ask you a question, Anthony said. someone said why is this school Elementary? Where did the come from? What would your statement be? You see what I mean? It still Robert E. Lee with that name. Everyone knows that. The school board is just playing games. let me ask a question that bothered me. If the name of Elementary meant so much to the heritage of former students, where were they Monday? Why didn they feel compelled to speak? The only former student at Lee who spoke was Allen, who in the discussion on the name change was not in favor of any compromise.
This was a softball the AISD board could have knocked out of the park, but did not. History should judge the school board in the 1950s for the naming of the school for Robert E. Lee as typical of those times as one that was racially ignorant. In a way, it almost excusable.
How will history judge this school board, its one moment? Board members will say they aren in this for politics, but to educate children, and that true. But sometimes history chooses you, like it or not.
It becomes your moment. Sometimes you only get one chance at it. Park Hills Elementary.
Former board member Sam Lovelady spoke Monday, saying one of his regrets was that he did nothing on the Lee name for eight years on the board. Will these board members feel the same?
I was driving home Monday night I asked myself what really got accomplished. And I wonder if board members, if they are honest with themselves, and ask that same question, will come to the same conclusion as I did: