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Oklahoma school swapping Robert E. Lee name for another Lee

May 15, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City education officials say a local school will no longer be named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, but one school board member said the new name amounts to “a slap in the face” to black residents.

The Oklahoma City School Board agreed Monday to change the names of three elementary schools named after Confederate generals. Among them was Lee Elementary School, which will be renamed after Oklahoma philanthropist Adelaide Lee.

“You are going to keep the name Lee on the building when it was named after a Confederate general Lee,” said Charles Henry, a black board member. “That’s a slap in the face to us as African-Americans that you would do that.”

Acting Superintendent Rebecca Kaye said final selection of the names was up to students and the community. The school district said Adelaide Lee, whose full name will be on school signage, was known for empowering women and children with access to education and day care services.

The board also voted to rename schools named after Stonewall Jackson and Stand Watie. Jackson Enterprise Elementary will be renamed after Mary Golda Ross, a Native American engineer from Tahlequah known for her aerospace work at Lockheed Martin. A school named for Watie will become Esperanza, the Spanish word for “hope.”

“I am really proud of our community and our students for having this courageous conversation about the values we hold,” Kaye said.

The board voted in October to rename the schools in the wake of violent white supremacist protests over the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. Then-Superintendent Aurora Lora said the Confederate generals didn’t “reflect our values in 2017.”

A local attorney will pay to remove all signs and symbols associated with the Confederate generals. The new names will take effect before August.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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