TULSA, Okla. – A public school district in Oklahoma has voted to retain the surname of an elementary school named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
The Tulsa Public Schools board voted 4-3 on Monday to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School to Lee Elementary School. But opponents question whether the new name does enough to erase Lee's history.
"We as a board voted unanimously to revoke the name Robert E. Lee in order to send a strong message that the diversity of our students is highly valued and that the racism that likely motivated the original naming has no place in Tulsa Public Schools," said Amy Shelton minutes before the vote.
Board members and community members who spoke against using the surname questioned whether the new name was enough.
"We have an opportunity to definitively show that the ideals of Robert E. Lee are not the ideals of our school, and this recommendation does not do that," said Dan Sinnett, a Lee parent. "This recommendation appeases oppressors."
The decision comes after a months-long evaluation, the Tulsa World reported. It also follows the March removal of a nearly century-old monument of the Confederate general at the school.
Hundreds petitioned to change the school's name following violent protests by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.
The school was dedicated and named after Lee in 1918. The board also voted to rename Andrew Jackson Elementary School to Unity Learning Academy.
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com