TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Earl Campbell’s influence can still be felt here in his hometown, as he has weighed in on the controversial naming of Tyler high schools, Robert E Lee and his alma-mater John Tyler.
When the Tyler Rose comes home to get away from it all, he will hang out at Head Bones car wash. You see he prefers being around folks who he grew up with, his hobby nowadays is this 57 Chevy and other classic vehicles. But he had an important phone call with the TISD Superintendent Marty Crawford.
A believer that people should talk and hash out their differences, he made an important phone call.
“I made the first step, not that it matters and I talked to him about, I think he was really all about Robert E Lee. And I said no sir I’m calling because I think its time we change both of them,” Campbell said.
This was before he met Trude Lamb, along with her brother Felix and adoptive mother Laura. He has kept up with Trude’s story of the name change for Tyler Lee and praised her for her courage. As she and her brother both received autographed jerseys, he told her Monday night that she was special.
The unrest in America had him thinking about speaking up, then this happened.
“I think when I read about Trude, I said you know there’s no sense in hiding it no more. People in Austin been into me about making a statement about UT about this, I said I’m gonna wait until its time and I knew Michael Coleman was in Tyler and that’s who can make me talk,” he said.
And boy did he talk. Making an impassioned plea, he showed his credentials as a unifier of people.
“I hope the public understands this, that you can do all the changing of the names you want to, but until you get into an individual’s heart and into that mind, that’s the kind of changing that needs to make a difference,” Campbell said. “And I will tell the people in Tyler and the superintendent and the school board, please think about my grandchildren, your grandchildren, the children that are not even born that’s going to come through John Tyler, Robert E Lee to know that these people stood up and did the right thing”
Campbell was on the 1974 state championship football team and remembers how that experience brought Tyler together.
Just like he had a hand in bringing Tyler people together back in 1974 he’s also lending a helping hand to do it once again.