Online Petition Aims to Wipe Civil War General's Name off San Angelo ISD Middle School
SAN ANGELO, TX — The Robert E. Lee Rebels will be a thing of the past if petition organizer Jessie Ramon, Jr. has his way. He has gathered 1,292 of his goal of 1,500 online signatures for removing Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s name from one of the three middle schools in the San Angelo ISD.
“The school built in 1949 has donned the name of the Confederate Commander who fought for slavery during the American Civil War. Robert E. Lee believed African Americans were subordinate to his own racial identity and had slaves himself. More than 70 years later many students continue to walk through those doors, entering their teenage years only to learn about the atrocities of the American Civil War in history class,” Ramon argued in the petition.
There were rumblings of a name change for the school in 2017, but the San Angelo ISD spokesman at that time, Derrick Jackson, said the controversy wasn’t on his radar back then.
The rioting over the death of black man George Floyd, where four Minneapolis police officers have been charged with his murder, has cleared the battleground again to consider a name change for the school.
In 2017, Midland ISD removed the song, “Dixie,” as the Midland Lee High School Rebels fight song. Also that year, the University of Texas removed statues of Confederate notables from its campus and tucked them away inside a museum.
At Texas A&M, a similar petition is circulating to remove the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross, who served as a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army. He also served two terms as the Texas governor, then saved the land grant university from being dismantled as A&M College president during the 1890s. The university in Alpine is also named after Sul Ross.
If arguments to remove Lee’s name from the middle school are successful, San Angelo will need to reconcile with other Confederate names in the area, including the county’s name, Tom Green County.
Brigadier General Thomas Green (1814-1864) served in the Trans-Mississippi Army of the CSA. He was killed in the Red River Campaign when he led his cavalry division against a battery of Union gunboats during the Battle of Blair’s Landing near Shreveport, Louisiana. Green is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.
Beauregard Avenue, the major east-west roadway in town that divides the crossing streets into north and south addresses, was named after CSA General P.G.T. Beauregard (1818-1893). General Beauregard was from Louisiana, and having resigned as West Point Superintendent at the onset of the war, led the CSA soldiers at the Battle of Charleston, the First Bull Run, Shiloh and Corinth, and Richmond.
The San Angelo ISD Board of Trustees will have to set the renaming of Lee Middle School on its agenda before any official debate over the name change can commence. The petition was initiated late Thursday afternoon, leaving no time for any official reactions.
The mascot for Lee Middle School is the Rebels. The petition is here.
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