Oklahoma City weighs renaming 3 Confederate-named schools

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
05/18/2018 12:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Stand Watie
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Three Oklahoma City schools named after Confederate generals may soon be renamed.

The school board on May 14 was expected to consider new names for Lee, Jackson Enterprise and Stand Watie elementary schools, which are named after Confederate generals Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson and Isaac Stand Watie, a Cherokee.

Committees made up of community members, school staff and parents selected two potential names for each school, which were presented to students at each school who then voted on their preference, district spokeswoman Beth Harrison said.

The students’ choices will be presented for the board for approval, although the board could select any name it chooses, Harrison said.

The suggested names haven’t been made public.

Board member Carrie Coppernoll Jacobs told The Oklahoman that children and employees should feel welcome in the places where they learn and work.

“To make amends for the past, we have to own it,” she said. “School names may seem like a small gesture, but all progress has value,” Coppernoll Jacobs said.

The board voted in October to rename the schools following violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the removal of a Confederate statue.

The Tulsa school board recently renamed Robert E. Lee Elementary as Lee School, although critics say the change doesn’t go far enough. It also renamed Andrew Jackson Elementary as Unity Learning Academy.

The Oklahoma City board conducted an online survey for names and the names of Lee, Jackson and Watie received the most votes, while past state and local leaders were also popular.

The other names receiving votes include minster and former school board member Wayne Dempsey, educator and civil rights activist Clara Luper, writer and Oklahoma City native Ralph Ellison and Wilma Mankiller, who was the first woman to be principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

The cost of changing the names is estimated at about $40,000, which a local attorney has agreed to pay.

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