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Debate heats up over Lee Elementary name controversy as community speaks out on alternative options

Posted at 8:57 PM, Jul 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 23:30:42-04

TULSA, Okla. -- The Lee community is feeling a sense of relief getting their voices heard.

A committee of parents, teachers, students, and district employees have brought forward five name suggestions and are taking feedback before the school board resumes the conversation next month.

"I think that Lee was on the wrong side of history. This is a man who owned slaves. Although he said he didn't believe in the institution of slavery he ended up fighting for it," former Lee parent Stephanie Shipley said.

Others in the neighborhood said the district is going too far to be politically correct, disrupting tradition in the process.

"It's been the name for a long time and I don't think we have to try to rectify something that might have happened hundreds of years ago," Bill Schulz said.

Some in support of honoring Robert E Lee have asked to revert to the original name, or compromise with the option of "Lee Reconciliation School."

"Thomas Jefferson had slaves and Andrew Jackson had slaves and they're on our federal money. We can't just go everywhere and try to erase what we think makes us feel bad," Schulz said.

But many at the meeting supported the proposed alternatives: Lincoln, Clara Luper, Woody Guthrie, Maple Ridge, and Council Oak.

"There are so many heroes, so many positive people we could be talking to our children about. I think if the name Lee and what he represented makes even one child here uncomfortable, that's one child too many," Shipley said.

The original name Robert E Lee was removed after some found it racially insensitive. The school board will continue the discussion on August 6th.

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