Possible name change of Robert E Lee High School sparking debate Monday night

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Possibly changing the name of Robert E Lee High School sparking a passion debate Monday night.

One alum exclaimed, “This is my annual class of ’76 yearbook. If you change the name of Robert E Lee, I might as well just throw this away because I won’t have a school.”

Another community member said, “Robert E. Lee was a slaver and a racist.”

Community members feel very strongly on their stances either to keep or to change the school’s Robert E Lee name.

Many against the change believe it would erase their heritage,

adding that the funds required could be used for what they believe to be more important things.

Walker Blanton, a local history professor explains, “The money spent will be better spent on the classroom, what happens inside the classroom: that is a lot more than the name on the outside of the building.”

Spearheading efforts to remove the name, activist groups Northside Coalition of Jacksonville and Take Em Down Jax held a rally before the meeting started.

Those wanting to change it believe public schools named to honor confederates and white supremacists further perpetuate racism.

And they say changing the school’s name does not erase history.

A local civil rights activist and author, Rodney Hurst, explains, “It’s not erasing history: I graduated from high school here in Jacksonville that’s no longer, a high school in 1960. So even though I graduated from the building, I still have my memories and my diploma and my experiences from that school, so that’s not erased.”

There are still two more community meetings slated for the high school in the coming weeks.

A big topic of conversation that we see continue is how much it would cost for a possible name change and where would those funds be coming from.

The superintendent is expected to give a presentation on the possible costs Tuesday morning.

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