Descendant of Robert E. Lee hopes community can reconcile after Monday's meeting

Decedent of Robert E. Lee hopes the community can reconcile after Monday's meeting
Updated: Aug. 9, 2018 at 9:00 PM CDT
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Tyler - After Monday night's failed motion to vote whether to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School, those in support of the name change are looking to reconcile with the opposition.

A descendant of Robert E. Lee says the nation can't continue to allow the names of schools and monuments across the country to bear the name Robert E. Lee.

He says he hopes the change will start here in Tyler.

"It was very disappointing, very anti-climactic," Robert E. Lee student Taniyah Jones said.

The actions at Monday's Tyler ISD school board meeting may have surprised many, but in the days afterward, reconciliation.

"It's the first thing that we've had in common with the opposition, we both wanted a vote, a yes or no," Robert E. Lee student Brandon Collins said.

When a vote to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School didn't happen, Collins says the two sides became united in disappointment.

"We weren't given a vote and that's what we asked for the first time, and now we are back where we were a couple of months ago," Collins said.

In favor of the name change of the high school and removal of monuments across the country is Robert W. Lee IV. He is the great nephew of General Robert E. Lee, and he says he was concerned.

"It would almost be easier to swallow if they took action and I disagreed with it, but to not take action is a very slippery slope," Lee said.

With that, both sides are hoping to find some middle ground.

"We want to have a couple of meetings with the opposition to talk with them and get to know each other more and show our cultural backgrounds," Collins said. "To see why we think the way we think and why we feel the way we feel."

A statement issued by Angela Smallwood, Misty Kinnett, Lisa McClure and the group Save Our Name/REL said:

"We are very pleased with the outcome and that this issue has been resolved. We are respecting the board's decision to not bring this issue up on a future agenda. Continuing to discuss this is taking time away from what our board members need to focus on which is first and foremost the education of our children. Continuing to discuss this and give certain individuals a platform to turn this into a political issue needs to stop. It's time to move on and that is what we are doing. We are certain the community can heal from this and once again believe the board members/TISD made the right decision to better our community as a whole."

While the board is no longer speaking about the issue, Lee believes the members could have done more. 

"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything, and I'm afraid that the community is going to see that the inaction is worse than any other form of action that could've been taken," Lee said.

The Better School, Better Name, Better Tyler coalition has not scheduled a meeting with the Save Our Name campaign, but say they are hoping to do so soon.

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