Schools across the South have been grappling with the names of Confederate generals and Civil War stalwarts affixed to their buildings amid a wave of reflection and reexamining as to whether or not having such names on a building used for public education sends the wrong message.
Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio, Texas, was one such school considering changing its controversial name, however North East Independent School District didn’t like the $1.3 million price-tag associated with doing so, the Wall Street Journal reports. To save money on new signage, sports uniforms, website changes and more, officials proposed shortening the name instead of changing it entirely.
After the story was published Monday, writer Tawnhell Hobbs turned the news item into a Socratic exercise, inviting suggestions on how the school’s name might be changed.
“Don’t want your school to be named for a Confederate general? Find someone else with the surname,” she tweeted. “Schools honor others with same surnames to avoid costs of repainting, new signs and uniform changes.”
Don’t want your school to be named for a Confederate general? Find someone else with the surname. Schools honor others with same surnames to avoid costs of repainting, new signs and uniform changes. #confederatenames #tellewa https://t.co/715PstUsDH— Tawnell Hobbs (@Tawnell) June 24, 2019
Twitter jumped on Hobbs’s proposal, and many people had cheeky ideas that wouldn’t require as much fiscal outlay to change so much signage at the school. Suggestions included slight alterations to name the school for late actor Bruce Lee, Rush frontman Geddy Lee, Oscar-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones, filmmakers Ang Lee and Lee Daniels, comic books legend Stan Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee and singer Brenda Lee. Another less savory “suggestions” included Lee Harvey Oswald, who killed President John F. Kennedy in Dallas (also in Texas) in November 1963 with a high-powered sniper rifle before himself being shot to death only days later.
Robert E. Lee led the Confederate armies during the Civil War, and famously commanded rebel forces at battles at Gettysburg and Second Manassas. He finally surrendering to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia in March 1865, effectively ending the war.
After returning to civilian life, Lee famously decried the use of his likeness for memorials throughout the South.
“I think it wiser…not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered,” Lee wrote in 1869.
There are over 200 schools named for Lee and other Confederate generals and figures throughout the South. Robert E. Lee in Texas is but one example and decided, despite great suggestions, to go with LEE High School, or the Legacy of Educational Excellence.
J.E.B. Stuart high school in Richmond, Virginia, the onetime capital of the Confederacy, changed its name last year to honor former president Barack Obama. That change has been part of a larger push to rename more schools throughout the South that are named for Confederate military personnel such as Lee.
The hashtag #confederatenames was trending on Twitter Monday as the subject was discussed across the social media platform.
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