Local creates petition to change the name of Robert E. Lee Jr. High School

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MONROE, La. (06/09/2020) — Stepping into the 21st century and leaving confederate ideology in the past is the goal of a petition created to change the name of Robert E. Lee Jr. High School.

“With white supremacist violence using confederate monuments, confederate history. I think it’s time to leave those things in the past,” said petition creator, Leah Blackmon.

50 percent of the students that attend the school are black and people believe the school’s namesake doesn’t represent those kids.

“Cornel Robert E. Lee was such a person that rode a big horse and wanted to dictate to others about slavery,” said President of the NAACP Ouachita Chapter Ambrose Douzart.

“The name represents a time of bigotry, of hatred, and oppression.”

Jesse Smith, NAACP Ouachita Chapter Member

Others who signed the petition agree. School board member Jennifer Haneline says:

“I believe it is incumbent upon the school board to take a look at anything that causes division within the community and distracts from our mission; it is for that reason I requested a committee be formed to address the name of Robert E. Lee Junior High.

Monroe City School Board President Betty Ward Cooper also responding saying:

I am currently soliciting input from the Board as to how they would like to proceed. My personal preference would be a process through which community input could be received before any final decision would be made.

The plan is to take the petition and take it before the school board and hope for change.

“White privilege is something we don’t see until we get older and some people never see it. So I think it’s important for the new generations to have a different mindset,” said Blackmon.

According to the Monroe City Schools Policy Manual, no school can be named after a living person. It’s up to the superintendent to get name suggestions.

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