This Wall Street Journal article looks at the trend of Southern American schools changing their name from “Robert E. Lee” to, well, any other “Lee” or similar name.
Many school districts are wrestling with sometimes contentious debates over being named for Confederate figures, while also facing tight budgets. The solution, they are finding, can be picking someone with a similar name. Districts began naming schools for Confederate figures after the Civil War, with an uptick in the 1950s and 1960s. Several dozen school districts have dropped Confederate school names in recent years.
In the Houston Independent School District, officials changed a school named for Confederate soldier Sidney Lanier to the late Bob Lanier, a former mayor of the city. The Austin school district’s Robert E. Lee Elementary is now Russell Lee Elementary, named for a Depression-era photographer.
Oklahoma City Public Schools wasn’t sure whether its Lee Elementary was even named for Robert E. Lee, because the school never carried the full name. But after the 2017 discovery of board minutes from the early 1900s that listed a portrait of Robert E. Lee as a gift to the school, officials figured the school must be named for the Confederate general. It changed the name to Adelaide Lee, after an Oklahoma philanthropist, in 2018.
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