MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Midland ISD Board of Trustees, with a vote of 6 to 1, passed the motion Monday night to rename Robert E. Lee High School and Robert E. Lee Freshman High School.
Board member, Bryan Murry, was the lone vote to keep the name. Rick Davis, Tommy Bishop, James Fuller, Robert Marquez, John Kennedy and John Trischitti III all voted in favor of the change.
Shortly after the initial vote, the board also voted to create a Citizens Committee that will present recommendations to Superintendent, Orlando Riddick. It will be made up of students, parents and alumni of Midland Lee. For more details on the demographic of the Citizens Committee, click here.
The board will finalize and approve the members no later than August 7th. The Citizens Committee will then make one to three recommendations to Riddick, who will present the recommended names to the board for final approval no later than October 19th.
President Rick Davis stated the board’s decision to change the names is “a matter of conscience.” He shared this statement with YourBasin following the meeting:
“At our meeting this evening, the Midland ISD Board of Trustees voted 6-1 to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School and appoint a Citizens Committee to recommend what the new name should be.
Voting to change the name was not an effort to erase history; instead remembering history is what caused us to change the name of the school that was so named in 1960 in a misguided attempt to honor such history at that particular time in our history.
But this decision was much more than simply righting a past wrong concerning the name of a high school. It was also about moving forward to reflect the character of our remarkable community.
We ask that the Citizens Committee, which will be comprised of Robert E. Lee graduates, parents of Lee graduates, and current students, draw upon their memories and experiences and focus on what has made the school special so that the new name can reflect it going forward and be one we can all be united in supporting.
President, MISD Board of Trustees
“Every single one of you who made a call, or maybe pushed behind the scenes, everything helped. And so, thank you to each and every person who came together for this purpose,” said New York native and current Midlander, Mercedes Buchanan.
Buchanan has been actively speaking out in favor of changing the names of the schools. She says the board’s decision is a win for all Midlanders.
“It makes me feel that our community does want all of us to be united one and strong. We do have the power when we organize and mobilize together. Change does happen.”
Lee graduate and long-term Midlander, Courtney Ratliff, also released a statement Monday night:
“Hearing so many people voice their support for change let’s me know that the scrutiny of the past two months has been worth it. While I know many still cannot understand the impact of a name, I am grateful that this school board does and has taken the right steps towards making Midland the truly inclusive city that it is. This movement was never about me, it was always about the future of our students.”
Ratliff initially began the petition to change the names, which received over ten thousand signatures.