LETTER: Let Citizens Vote on Robert E. Lee Name Change

SAN ANGELO, TX – The following is a letter to the editor concerning the name change of Robert E. Lee Middle School. 

August 12, 2020
San Angelo LIVE!
2001 W. Beauregard Avenue
San Angelo, TX 76901
Dear San Angelo LIVE!, (This is a copy of a letter I sent to all members of SAISD school Board today) I am writing concerning the petition to consider changing the name of Lee Middle School. 

I understand this issue was raised by petition and warrants an answer. I wonder if the petitioner and those who have commented publicly in favor or against have considered the impact this has on the children of our town. It has divided our citizens mainly along lines of race and political views. It is not clear to me what good can come from it no matter the outcome. 

I believe this strife will adversely affect the very child the petitioner claimed to be concerned about in the first place. When we start out as little children and meet another child, we notice our differences
but first see a friend. Children find it easy to laugh and play despite their differences. Who has not been uplifted by the honest smile, laugh or hug of a little one? Their positivity and joy are infectious. 

At this time, no matter which way the school board decides this issue, it will impact all our children negatively. It may have created a degree of mistrust of one child for another. Some children are going to feel guilt and self-loathing, though they have done nothing wrong.

Do they deserve this?

As adults, we must be very careful about raising issues where there were none. If our children have questions, it is up to us to answer those. Now, in addition to preparing these children for the school year during a pandemic, we are trying to explain to them what all of this is about. It is not up to the school board, teachers, or administrators to raise our children as responsible and confident individuals.

This responsibility lies with parents and family. If we do not speak positivity into them every day, we are doing a disservice to the very ones who share their smiles, love, and honesty with us. This is what is important to them, and not us pursuing issues that will negatively impact their educational and social experiences.

We must show our children that our identity is more than the color of our skin. For if we are not more, then we have not grown or accomplished anything since the day we were born. I refuse to believe this, and children deserve better. They need to be taught their identity is based on their own personal integrity and character and not based on how they look.

Are we teaching our children to smile and say, "good morning," to hold doors open for others, and to be honest and proud of themselves?

If we are not demonstrating these types of behaviors, what are we teaching them?

We all have missed opportunities and done wrong, but we all have done good things in our lives as well. We should leave the missed opportunities and bad in the past. We must build on the good things and teach our children from a perspective of positivity. Perhaps we should encourage the middle school children in our town to think about what is important to them in their daily lives or give us ideas on the design of an official City of San Angelo flag.

This could help bring us together. If we initiative these types of activities, children will be the ones to inspire us to take action to help them achieve their goals and dreams. We must listen to our children, our future. We might ask ourselves, "what ever happened to that little child inside of us?" It is still there.

We just need to wake it up. If we listen to our children and the small voice that lives inside of each of us, we will realize we have much to learn from these little ones. Since the issue was raised and must be decided, you must consider carefully and thoughtfully the consequences of any action. If you bow to the pressure of special interest groups on this issue, this will not end their demand.sWe have seen examples from other parts of the country as to what we might expect next. It will not stop with the names of schools, streets, or buildings. We can expect more petitions and pressure to get rid of cowboy statues, flags, or other symbols of West Texas, because they offend someone.

There will always be those who want to remove something from our memory to exert control over us. If we bow to this pressure, we will eventually have nothing left of our heritage and history but a blank page. The good, bad, and ugly experiences in our life make us who we are today. We are not a blank page to be written upon by those who seek to destroy our way of life. 

In a democracy, such as we live in, the will of the majority of its citizens is served. The will of the "mob"or special interest groups should not prevail.

In this case, professional speakers have been brought forward as proponents on one side of the issue. Their ability to be persuasive should not carry the day either. Many citizens cannot attend the virtual town hall meetings due to work schedules, family concerns, and the day-to-day business we all must conduct. Our absence does not signal acquiescence or disinterest in matters such as this petition that was submitted to the SAISD school board to change the name of Lee Middle School. 

All citizens of San Angelo must be afforded the opportunity to give their input on this decision which will undoubtedly impact all our lives in some manner. This question must be put on the ballot and decided democratically to ensure the will of the majority is served and not the will of the few. The SAISD faces a daunting task in providing an answer to this question. No matter what decision may be made by the membership of the school board, it may anger and will result in some citizens being hurt and dissatisfied.

This is one reason we, in the United States of America and the Great State of Texas, settle these types of issues by giving the members of our society the opportunity to vote on them. After a vote, there will still be hurt feelings, dissatisfaction, and some anger, but we will know what the majority of San Angeloans want for our city.

Steve L.
San Angelo

Here are a few stories regarding San Angelo LIVE!'s coverage of the name change of Robert E Lee Middle School: 

San Angelo's Civil War

Process Announced to Consider More Than Just Renaming Robert E. Lee Middle School

WATCH: Keep The Name 

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Well put and on the spot, let us, the people, decide. Gather up all the gripes and hurt feelings about names of streets, schools, etc in the city and the county for that matter. Also gather up any statues, drawings, murals, etc. Then put on a ballet and let the people decide. That is American as it gets. Probably not time to get it on the next ballot but never no. I will definitely vote.

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