MONROE, LA (6/25/20)– Over two weeks ago, thousands have signed a petition to change the name of “Robert E. Lee Junior High School” because for many the name represents hatred and oppression. Now, their voices are being heard and change is in the near future for the school.
“I was hopeful that we would get the push there, and luckily we made it,” said Leah Blackmon, started petition.
The Monroe City School Board has announced they have started the process to change the name of Lee Junior High School.
“The renaming of the school will be an inclusive process. When that school, Lee Junior High, was named in the past it was not an inclusive process and we have this opportunity to get it right,” said Betty Ward-Cooper, President of the Monroe City School Board.
Cooper says students, teachers, parents, and the public will be able to give their input. The school board says they will honor that and their voices will be heard. Superintendent Brent Vidrine will take the lead on the project, but all 7 school board members will vote on the final decision for a name.
“We want the new name to represent unity, but above all else, we want it to be an inspiration for the students and for the community,” said Ward-Cooper.
While over 50 percent of the school’s students are African American, officials believe the new name should bring pride and unity for those who study here. Locals say renaming the school is showing that the Monroe community is ready to see change…and this is the first step.
“Even something small as changing the name of a school kind of sends a signal like alright we see what needs to be done,” said Blackmon.
“I am looking forward to the day when it will not require a loss of life to bring about the change that our country should be standing for,” said Ward-Cooper.
Cooper says this is an important decision and they don’t want to rush the process, but they hope to have the school renamed in August. Superintendent Vidrine estimated the name change will cost between 75 to 100-thousand dollars.