Demand to change Robert E. Lee High School name resurfaces as protesters gather outside board meeting

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The debate to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler has resurfaced once again since 2018.

Over 75 protestors supporting the change showed up outside Monday night’s board meeting with one goal – to put the topic back on the board’s agenda.

Back in 2018, after several months of debate, the motion to change the school’s name was ultimately tabled with no action taken.

Now, two petitions have circulated. One calling for change and the other asking to keep the name the same.

Before the meeting, Tyler ISD Board President Wade Washmon released a statement.

We as a board are well aware of the issues surrounding the names of both of our flagship high schools. We have heard from, and anticipate hearing more, from the community on the subject. This time in between school years will hopefully be used to discuss, and find both consensus and meaningful resolution in a unified manner. Our thoughts on this matter will be limited to future board meetings where this topic is on the agenda, and of course during our conversations with community members. It is our obligation to remain poised and reasonable during this time, and we would appreciate your patience as we work, serve, and handle the business of this district while also addressing this issue. All media inquiries should be directed through the Tyler ISD communications department

Tyler ISD Board of Trustees President Wade Washmon

Only those who previously signed up were allowed inside the board meeting to speak, leading to 46 people voicing their opinions.

“Well, we’ll let this slide for now. Maybe this will be better later. No it’s not going to get better unless we actively fight against racism and fight against the symbols of racism and start to heal the wounds that are 400 years old in this country,” said D. Karen Wilkerson.

“Think about how that makes my people feel to sings praises to a man’s name who did not even want us to go to his so precious school. This school wasn’t meant for us but now it’s for everybody so the school name should reflect that,” said Shanice Kendrick.

After the public was given the chance to speak, the Tyler ISD board continued with the agenda which did not have the Robert E. Lee name listed as an item of discussion.

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