• Petition seeks to rename Tulsa elementary school following violent Charlottesville rally

    By: Rick Maranon


    TULSA, Okla. - Quick Facts: 

    • A petition appeared on Change.org to change Lee Elementary School
    • The petition seeks to control "who [Tulsa] glorifies" following deadly protests in Charlottesville
    • The petition writer wants to see a contest for Tulsa to vote on a "more respectable" namesake
    • As of noon Monday, more than 860 signed the petition


    A petition asking for the removal of Robert E. Lee's name from a midtown Tulsa elementary school is circulating online after violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

    Not only does the school, which sits at East 21st Street and South Cincinnati, bear the Confederate general's name, but a portrait of Lee hangs in the main entrance to the school.

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    As of noon Monday, the petition had more than 800 signatures, and that number was increasing.

    The petition filed on Change.org cites last weekend's events as the motivation behind the request for a name change.

    White supremacists, KKK members and neo-Nazis rallied over the weekend to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue slated for removal in Charlottesville.

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    Those protests turned violent when a man supporting the white nationalists plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one of them and injuring more than a dozen.

    Residents living near the neighborhood where Lee Elementary sits in midtown Tulsa say they were torn in their opinions of a possible change.

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    A few who asked not to appear on camera said history should be preserved, saying the past can't be wished away.

    Others in the neighborhood said it's time to move on. They say they can understand how a historical figure has now become a symbol of hate.

    School officials say Monday they are working to evaluate whether or not the name should be changed.

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    Tulsa Public Schools sent the following response: 

     "We are heartbroken by the events that unfolded in Charlottesville this weekend. This blatant display of racism and bigotry by a misguided, misinformed group of white supremacists is alarming, troubling, and deeply hurtful to everyone in our community. Every person deserves love, respect, and dignity, and we remain  committed to effecting transformative change by putting equity at the forefront of the ways that we teach, learn, and work together. 

    Board members and the superintendent have discussed the namesakes of our schools previously and certainly in recent days. Leading with equity means thinking critically about our traditions and histories and recognizing where changes may be needed to live our core values of equity, character, excellence, team, and joy. We are committing to undertaking a full review of the names of all of our schools to ensure that our learning communities have names that are aligned with our values. We are working to identify community members to engage with the board of education and superintendent in this effort and look forward to sharing more information as our plans develop."


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