Change Lee County to Shoemaker County

Change Lee County to Shoemaker County

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John Gamba started this petition to Lee County and

As a student in Lee County, FL, I was taught that General Lee was a good man; that he opposed slavery, and only led the Confederate army during the Civil War so that he wouldn’t have to fight against his beloved home state of Virginia. I learned that he surrendered the Confederate army with grace and even aided in Reconstruction. In recent weeks, after a deeper dive, I have discovered that this prescribed account of history, taught at an impressionable age, by teachers who were probably as ignorant as I was, was entirely untrue. Robert E. Lee was a racist. He owned slaves. He was committed to the Confederate cause. He was known to “whoop” his slaves harder at the end of tough battles like Gettysburg and Antietam. Robert E. Lee was not a proud Virginian, nor a good man. He was a loser, and his continued prominence as a venerated model of southern history and tradition is a dog-whistle to white nationalism and white supremacy. For our county to promote the virtues of freedom, liberty and equality, replacing Lee County’s name is a must!

Ten years ago, while I was in 7th grade, I conducted research on a local Lee County luminary who was the subject of my history fair documentary. Veronica Shoemaker was a retired city council member, entrepreneur and owner of a local business in the Dunbar community of Fort Myers. I was struck by her story of courage, grit and resilience. A community organizer and civil rights activist, Ms. Shoemaker ran for Fort Myers City Council for 16 straight years, and lost every time. On her 17th try, she won, becoming the first African American to be elected to the city council. She then served for 24 straight years, a record for any Lee County politician. 

Her work was grass roots, in the trenches and tireless, with deep and far-reaching impact, and was eventually recognized by President Obama when she received Hodges University’s First Luminary award in 2010, as being “fearless in her fight for justice.” If we want to demonstrate what our county truly stands for, and we want to recognize service and impact in it’s highest form, I propose we rename Lee County to Shoemaker County, in honor of one of our greatest local civil rights advocates, Veronica Shoemaker. 

Take it from the former mayor Wilbur Smith of Fort Myers, who said after Veronica Shoemaker passed away in 2016, 

“Thomas Edison can’t hold a candle to her; Henry Ford can’t compare to her. In my mind, she is the most important person in Fort Myers history… Nothing deterred her from her quest to bring equality to the black citizens of Fort Myers.”

In order to officially change the name of the county, we must put pressure on the county commissioners panel to hold a vote. You can start by signing this petition, and by reaching out to these officials. Their public information is linked below. 

If you want to know more about Veronica Shoemaker, here are several other links, as well as the documentary I produced in middle school. 

Be the change. #BLM

https://news.wgcu.org/show/makers/2013-01-22/veronica-shoemaker

https://www.news-press.com/story/news/2016/01/21/veronica-shoemakerfort-myers-civil-rights-activist-dies/79139476/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/local/fort-myers/2016/01/29/fort-myers-honors-veronica-shoemaker/79520092/

The documentary: https://vimeo.com/45078154

County Commisioner’s page: https://www.leegov.com/bocc

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!