SAN ANGELO, TX — This video story was about 6 weeks in the making. It covers much ground. For the beginning of this piece, we wanted to gather every argument made by a local citizen in public for renaming Robert E. Lee Middle School. Unfortunately, the man who initiated the original petition to remove the name on change.org, Jessie Ramon, refused to go on camera to argue his case. We captured his presentation to the San Angelo ISD Board of Trustees.
Since the proposal is for changing the name of a middle school with 71 years of history — and graduates — we felt the issue needed more than the cursory glance. We wanted as many authoritative, and if able, local voices as we could.
The piece begins with the arguments for those who want the school name changed, and their reasoning: Lee led the fight to keep slavery during the Civil War and his image is oppressive to Blacks and other minorities.
We wanted to know why did a San Angelo ISD Board of Trustees of the late 1940s, when the school was constructed, name it Robert E. Lee Junior High. We received answers.
We asked Lt. Col. Allen West, a Black man and culture warrior for the right, what he thought of the push to take down Confederate monuments and about places like schools named after Robert E. Lee. There are many schools named after Confederate heroes remaining in Texas. He gave us some points to ponder.
We also explore other public places in the Concho Valley named for Confederate Civil War heroes. The irony of the entire debate over the name of Lee Middle School is that should San Angelo ISD change the name, many parents will continue to drive down Beauregard Avenue to get to the school. Beauregard Avenue, that traces the main dividing line between north and south San Angelo, was named after one of Lee’s immediate subordinates, Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard. Tom Green County is named after Confederate General Thomas Green. There is also Confederate Major Ben Ficklin. Ben Ficklin is the name of a road that leads to a stagecoach station location that was the original county seat of the county, then known as the town of Ben Ficklin.
After we finished the initial video production we discovered a Confederate namesake we overlooked. San Angelo ISD’s Reagan Elementary School is named after John Henninger Reagan, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He served in the cabinet of Confederate States President Jefferson Davis as Postmaster General.
No one is protesting Reagan Elementary School’s name because very few know who the Confederate Postmaster named Reagan was.
The San Angelo ISD Board of Trustees has organized a three-month timeframe for debating Robert E. Lee’s name on the middle school. Two virtual town halls or forums are planned to gather citizen input. The superintendent announced that a polling consultant will be hired to measure community support. The decision to rename or keep the name will happen in October. We asked who the polling consultant was twice, the San Angelo ISD hasn’t answered.
How do you feel about Robert E. Lee Middle School?
Click here to vote to change the name.
Click here to vote to keep the name.
The video is above on this page. Click the arrow to watch it.
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