Education

Dr. Gist and TPS Talks of Renaming Lee School in Midtown

 

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Robert E. Lee Elementary | Tulsa, Okla.

 

Report By Nehemiah D. Frank

President Trump’s ambiguous statements to denounce the White supremacist in last weekends domestic terrorist attacks in Charlottesville, Va. alarmed the entire nation that we have taken two steps backward.

Citizens from all over the U.S. have vowed to take a stand against glorifying white supremacist leaders from American history such as General Robert E. Lee who committed treason against the U.S. by siding with the Confederacy during the Civil War.

In Okla., Tulsa Public School’s Administration made public that they’re in talks of possibly changing controversial school names like Robert E. Lee elementary school located in Midtown. Lee School is one of the oldest school in Oklahoma, founded in 1918 and was named after General Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy.

Since last Saturday’s racialized attacks in Charlottesville, a petition calling for the name change has collected over 4,000 signatures.

“No one wants to see Tulsa be the next Charlottesville. There’s not much we can do to fight against White Supremacists in America, but this is something we CAN do. We have control over who we glorify,” the petition stated.

Many Americans believe General Lee wasn’t a patriot but a traitor of the U.S. government.

Superintendent Dr. Debrah Gist told reporters that even if TPS doesn’t have the funds for a name change that TPS would find the money to make the necessary changes, even if it involves collecting donations outside of the state.

“We are heartbroken by the events that unfolded in Charlottesville this weekend. This blatant display of racism and bigotry by a misguided, misinformed group of white supremacists is alarming, troubling, and deeply hurtful to everyone in our community. Every person deserves love, respect, and dignity, and we remain committed to effecting transformative change by putting equity at the forefront of the ways that we teach, learn, and work together.

Board members and the superintendent have discussed the namesakes of our schools previously and certainly in recent days. Leading with equity means thinking critically about our traditions and histories and recognizing where changes may be needed to live our core values of equity, character, excellence, team, and joy. We are committing to undertaking a full review of the names of all of our schools to ensure that our learning communities have names that are aligned with our values. We are working to identify community members to engage with the board of education and superintendent in this effort and look forward to sharing more information as our plans develop.”

Dr. Gist also told reports

“In order to meet that core value, we have some steps we need to take to make sure the names of our schools reflect that,” Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said.

Many Tulsa residents think changing the name isn’t necessary and that TPS should focus on the ongoing budget crisis arguing that a name change at Lee should also render a name change of Booker T. Washington High School. The difference, one man was born a slave and became a prominent figure in not only American-American history but American history and the other a “Benedict Arnold,” a traitor.

It was Booker T. Washington who coined the phrase “Black Wall Street,” recognizing the prosperity of Tulsa’s affluent African-American community during the turn of the last century.

To sign the petition to change Robert E. Lee School in Midtown just click here.