By Marfa Public Radio Staff
The effort to rename Midland’s Robert E. Lee High School continues Thursday night, as a committee considers what mascots, school colors and nicknames will be part of the proposals being recommended.
The decision from the 23-member Citizens’ Renaming Committee—made of alumni, current student and Midland Independent School District staff—will play into how much rebranding the school will cost, which some estimates have nearing between $1.7 million to slightly over $3 million.
The Three Options
At its last meeting, 12 of the committee’s members voted in favor of renaming the school to “Midland Legacy of Equality and Excellence” — or, L.E.E.
Tall City High School, which comes from a nickname for the City of Midland, received nine votes. And in third place, with one vote is Midland Carver Lee High School — which combines the name of the school black Midland students attended during segregation with Lee High’s name.
The committee will present its first choice along with the other names to Midland ISD’s Board of Trustees in October. And although the committee is “recommending” Midland L.E.E., the school board could choose either of the other options or throw them all out.
What’s Happened So Far?
Since Midland ISD school board decided to rename the school, in a six-to-one vote, there have been multiple demonstrations from groups calling for the name change and those wanting it to remain.
For those proposing a change to Lee High’s name, the argument is simple: they don’t believe a school should honor the confederate general that fought to preserve the institution of slavery, and naming a school after Robert E. Lee was wrong and needs to be corrected.
Apart from the name, proponents of the change have pointed to the school’s deep history with racist Confederate imagery and references.
The Confederate flag was used and flown during sporting events for decades. Up until 2017, the school band played “Dixie.” And a cartoon Confederate soldier has been used to represent the school.
The people arguing to keep the school’s name—who refer to themselves as “FamiLEE”—say this is an institution they have strong ties to. It’s a dominant football school in the Permian Basin, which has won three state football championships. And its supporters worry that if the school board removes “Lee” from the school’s name entirely, then the school’s legacy will be lost.
Since the end of July, when the board announced the school would be renamed, there’s been an effort to salvage the so-called “Lee” brand, whether that’s through an acronym like the one proposed, or another compromise.
The people arguing to keep the school’s name—who refer to themselves as the “FamiLEE,” —say this is an institution they have strong ties to. It’s a dominant football school in the Permian Basin, which has won three state football championships. And its supporters worry that if the school board removes “Lee” from the school’s name entirely that the school’s legacy will be lost.
At the end of July,the board announced the school would be renamed, since then there’s been an effort to salvage the so-called “Lee” brand, whether that’s through an acronym like the one proposed, or another compromise.
Other Changes at Midland ISD
Meanwhile, other significant changes are on the horizon at Midland’s school district.
The school board recently placed its current superintendent on administrative leave as they begin the process of formally removing him from office. More recently, the board appointed an interim superintendent, Dr. Ann Dixon.
In November, school board elections will be held and four seats are up for vote.