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Rename Robert E. Lee Elementary in El Paso TX

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If Robert E. Lee had been successful in his military campaign 97.4% of the schools students would not be able to attend the school today. Robert E. Lee has a place in history and should not be erased from American history. However, there is a place for everything. Museums, libraries, and history books are all appropriate avenues to study his history. The side of an elementary school is not the place to venerate such a controversial american figure. Robert E. Lee, to some, was a brave war general who fought to preserve states rights and was a ideological symbol to the defeated south. To others Robert E. Lee is a symbol of conquest and white supremacy because the states right he was trying to preserve was the right to own slaves. 

Having his name on the side of a building is subconscious psychological racial oppression that has been forced upon minority communities as a stark reminder of slavery and racism. Every time this imagery is seen it is like a punch in the gut and occupies space in people of colors minds because we cant help but to be reminded of our tragic history of slavery. It makes us feel like the country that we live in, which prides itself on freedom, liberty, and justice, wishes we were still slaves. The country can not cleanse itself from the mistakes from the past while simultaneously reinforcing ideas from the past.  How do we claim to be inclusive when we have a school named after a person that fought to uphold the values of slavery? How can the school district celebrate black history month while having a symbol of black oppression on one of its schools?

How did it get this way? Propaganda. The United Daughters of the Confederacy subjected many to the alternative reality of the Lost Cause, a false version of U.S. history developed in response to Reconstruction that minimizes slavery's central role in the Civil War, promotes the Confederacy's aim as a heroic one, glorifies the Ku Klux Klan, and portrays the white South as the victim. The UDC had an almost singular focus on making sure the Lost Cause propaganda was so ingrained in the minds of Southern youth that it would be perpetual. Their most effective tool? School textbooks. The UDC's propaganda campaign utilized other tools also such as monuments, street names, building names, etc. In 1932 alone, the North Carolina Division placed 183 portraits of Confederate figures in the state's public schools, along with 206 Confederate flags. The following year, it was 865 flags.

Finally, Lee himself never wanted such ideology.  “I think it wiser,” the retired military leader wrote about a proposed Gettysburg memorial in 1869, “…not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”

“As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated,” Lee wrote of an 1866 proposal, “my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; [and] of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour.”

If you do not want to respect my wishes to have it removed because of the daily trauma it causes to people of color, at least respect the wishes of the man whom you hold in such high regard.  



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