SD lawmaker wants to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School

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SAN DIEGO — A lawmaker called Tuesday on the San Diego Unified School District to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School because of the namesake’s ties to the Confederacy.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, sent a letter to SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten that referred to the shooting deaths of the pastor and eight parishioners of a historic black church in Charleston. The school district did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the issue.

The attack is being investigated as a hate crime. The 21-year-old accused gunman, who is white, had posed with a Confederate flag in photos posted online.

South Carolina’s governor has since called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the statehouse.

“The flag in particular, and anyone associated with this army, in general, have been associated with intolerance, racism and hate, none of which have a place in our schools,” Gonzalez wrote.

“It is also important to note that the area in which the elementary school is located is truly representative of South San Diego — a vibrant, multiethnic community with a strong African-American presence that deserves a school named after someone we can all admire,” her letter says. “Robert E. Lee is not that person.”

San Diego Unified School District spokeswoman Ursula Kroemer released a statement regarding Gonzalez’s letter:

We are sensitive to the concerns voiced by some members of the community that it may not be appropriate to have a school named after Robert E. Lee.   We see this as a wonderful opportunity to have a larger community dialogue with students, staff and families about the school name and look at the history and research surrounding Lee in order to make a collectively informed decision about changing the name or retaining it.  Should the community determine a name change is appropriate, there is a clear process for school naming that is inclusive of a variety of stakeholders and provides clear rationale for a new name.

The school located on Rancho Hills Drive in the Paradise Hills area is known as Lee Elementary and was opened on January 12, 1959.

“Our historical school data show it was always Robert E. Lee Elementary and that the reason for the name selected was “American soldier and educator,” Kroemer said.  “The student body is extremely diverse, representing Hispanic (75.6%), Filipino (6.6%), Multi-racial (6.4%), African American (5.5%), Caucasian (2.5%), Pacific Islander (1.9%) and Asian (0.3%) families.”

The Confederate Civil War general left a mixed legacy on race and slavery.

In an 1856 letter responding to a speech by President Franklin Pierce, he called the institution of slavery “a moral and political evil.” In the same letter, however, he wrote that slaves were “immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially,” and were going through a “painful discipline” necessary for “further instruction as a race.”

Historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor, who went through a cache of Lee’s papers discovered in 2002 in a Virginia bank, told US News & World Report that Lee owned slaves that were inherited by his wife, and that he kept them working five years after they expected to be freed.

39 comments

  • SoCalMediaSurfer-MiccilinaPiraino

    OMG, What a LOAD of PC BS!!! That is going WAY too far! Not only was Robert E Lee a Man of Honor, he struggled over whether or not to take an appointment offered by President Lincoln as a General for the Grand Republic. He was a statesman, a man of family that had wonderful values and he was ultra intelligent. He happened to live in VA, so it was very hard for him to choose his home over other concerns. He was actually a better battle strategist than MOST of the other generals on either side. That is why Lincoln wanted him, he knew how good Robert E Lee would be in battle. If anyone deserves the honor of having a school named for them, HE DOES!

    • Dorothy

      These people need to STOP with changing America. Just because some idiot did something, they want to change the name of my school. I say NO….. Stop blaming everything but the person responsible for their crimes. Stop bring up the past and history to make excuses for idiots committing crimes. If it’s not one thing it’s another. Put blame where it belongs, On the person who did it, and the parents who raised them. I have read history, and there was slavery, but that was in the past and was stopped. I Thank my parents for raising me to see all as equal. We all are human, our skin color does NOT make us different. People are not born to hate, they are taught to hate, and it all depends on what hate they are taught. Whether it’s a religion, or color of skin or gender. or whatever they are taught. Do NOT glorify this idiot by changing things because of him, and what he has done. You want to blame someone, then blame him for what he has done.

    • Chris Kellawan

      Many of these responses are typical examples of white privilege, fortunately this viewpoint is becoming less prevalent, in part because the youth of today are able to educate themselves beyond the white-washed curricula in most public and private k-12 schools. They will learn about the creation of the suburbs, the white-only loan policies of the post-WWII housing boom, they’ll learn about Black Wall st., they’ll learn about the structural and institutional racism that has existed in this country since day one, they’ll learn how many protestant denominations worked with and were members of the KKK (good christians), and they’ll recognize that when one group of people enslaves and transports 40 million people to do their work for them, and then have the gall to call *them lazy*, it’s time to call Bullshit! IMHO, I think many of you are scared of exactly that…….and you should be.

  • Marty

    this country deserves everything it’s getting by voting these idiots in to office !!!! It’s all going down the toilet and nobody’s doing squat about it ….. Kiss it all bye-bye

  • Joshua

    Lee was a Hero of the Mexican-American War, and served his country for 30 years! He only sided with the south cause he was loyal to Virginia! Sounds like Gonzalez doesn’t know much about history! This is all politics tarnishing the name of an honorable man!

  • Jacquie

    I know the area where Lee elementary school is located since I lived a few blocks away from it, Why now decide to change it after many years of it being there and many friends of mines went to Lee, Its very stupid to change just because of what happen in Charleston South Carolina, I lived there from 2000-2005 and Its sad what happen but honestly what happened in SC has nothing to do with renaming the paradise hills school.. I would keep Lee the same and just focus on making the school system better in San Diego then arguing about the name of a school.

    • Matt Burns

      Well Ron, YOU’RE clearly a racist. You assume that she’s not a citizen because she has a Hispanic last name? Did you READ the story, or is that beyond your education level? Let me help you. She’s a COUNCILWOMAN, so I’m pretty sure she’s a citizen!

      • Ron

        In San Diego you can assume what you want…..illegals are everywhere in this Sanctuary State an it’s disgusting. If anyone is a Racist it’s the POS assemblywoman who is trying to ban something she knows nothing about , so go fck yourself!

  • Antonios Platsidakis

    Robert E Lee did fight for the federacy, he was born in Virginia and he died in Virginia. However! Robert E Lee was against, AGAINST, slavery. Please look it up, he felt it was the states rights to choose, which is what the Northern Virginia Battle Flag represents. This coming from a Yankee in Michigan.

  • Pat

    This politically correct business has to stop. What are we going to do, change the name of every street, building, town, memorial that is named after a historical figure that some group finds offensive? Next thing you know they’ll be going after Abraham Lincoln himself! People just need to get over it. I would think that the city council has more important issues on their agenda than wasting their time on this; for instance, how about street repair, street markings, weed abatement, crumbling infrastructure, broken water pipes, etc.

  • Ron

    Yet does nothing about our Schools flooded with Illegals who tax paying citizens are on the hook for right? FCK YOU WETBACK!

  • Pat

    And another thing … This should be decided by the voters, NOT by a handful of council people with a political agenda!

  • James

    Here comes the feeding frenzy. And early capitulation by Walmart, Amazon and eBay and in swoops opportunist Gonazalez to score some easy PC points and advance her political career in democrat-controlled Sacramento. This is absolutely asinine, but it’s part and parcel of the ongoing “Fundamental Transformation” agenda. Besides, given the state of the public schools in San Diego Unified, I’d be amazed if any of the students knew who Robert E. Lee was.

  • These people need to stay in their swim lane.

    Ignorance of some in our education system. Sad how some don’t have a clue or a true understanding of life and want to hop on the wagon of change without a clue of the issues they are changing

  • barbara king

    stop trying to change names PERIOD. Schools, churches, stadiums, streets, all were given lengthy consideration before being named. Once a building has been named and dedicated, LEAVE IT ALONE! I attended Robert E. Lee school from 1963-1967 and had some of my best childhood memories there. Change your own name, if you please, but leave the school’s name alone!

  • Jan-Michael Vincent_fan

    I don’t know who to fear more, whether real racists or people (no matter their color or ethnicity) who always cry racist and call for some “change” even when it is unnecessary. Both of these types of people bring divide, PERIOD. Do racists still exist? Sure they do! I’m not denying that. But changing some school name because of your own hate will NOT help any. And as I said earlier, the real racists will get a good laugh if they saw the divide here. In other words, you are letting them win! For those who cry racist and want unnecessary change, again, they bring just as much divide, especially when these racist groups are smaller in number than before. There was no trouble until that idiot “lawmaker” brought this up. Stop trying to fix what’s not broken!

  • hillzagain

    Classic example of a Liberal using a tragedy to stir up a bunch of BS on an unrelated issue.

  • oatka

    Where will all this idiotic one-up posturing and pandering stop? What’s next? Destroy monuments to Confederate dead? Burn history books? Oh yeah, then there’s that “offensive” Gadsden flag.

    Isn’t it amazing how quickly things are moving on an issue that 99.9% of the country couldn’t care about less than a week ago?

    These invented controversies we are witnessing are the Politically Correct spasms of a psychotic nation rotting out from under our feet like river ice in the spring.

  • Veronica

    Robert E Lee didn’t believe in slavery and he didn’t own any slaves. And Lee was president Lincoln first choice for general of the Union army. Had the state of Virginia decided to join the north then Lee would had lead the northern army. But Lee fought for Virginia as he loved and honored his home. He didn’t fight for slavery and felt that no man should ever be owned by another man. President Lincoln didn’t have a problem with slavery in the south before the war as long as the south didn’t try to expand slavery into other states to the west. So does that mean we should remove anything dealing with Lincoln? I think not.

  • Kimberly

    REALLY? I don’t understand why??-there is no confederate flag on the flag pole.. He was a great soldier.. He was against slavery but he loved his heritage.. People please reread your history books

  • realitycheck

    Robert E Lee also believe in reconciliation and supported President Johnson’s program of Reconstruction and inter-sectional friendship.
    Of course those who can never forgive and never forget (and blame everyone else for their problems) would hate Robert E Lee. …. Who owned the slave ships? The Northerners…… Who sold slaves into slavery ? Other African tribes.
    Who were the first saves in this hemisphere? …. The Irish, and you don’t seen them whining about the British Flag or reparations.

  • Misty King

    I lived in the Paradise Hills area of San Diego from 1962 to 1977. I attended Robert E. Lee Elementary School from second thru sixth grade. The school was a great place to learn with wonderful teachers and involved parents. I enjoyed my time there. It was a multi-cultural school when I went there. I also went to Bell Jr. High and Samuel Morse High School. Gee, maybe those should be renamed because they men who contributed technical advances in communications that helped the USA. Maybe I don’t like guys who invent stuff so change the school names. Those schools were also multi-cultural/racial makeup. Robert E. Lee is a historic general from the Civil War era. He fought on the side of the South because of his love for his home state of Virginia. Once the war was over,, he donated part of his Virginia land for what became Arlington National Cemetery. He had to reapply for U.S. citizenship 6 months after the war because he seceded from the Union. This man loved the USA enough to want to be part of it again. I think he was a great man to give the land for a hallowed place for our fallen military heroes at Arlington. I am a retired military veteran of 21 years service to my country. I have lived and been stationed all around the USA. I have lived in the South for the last 20 years. My military and civilian workplace and neighborhood have always been a rainbow of colors and ethnicities that get along with each other. It is great to live in a place where people value each other as human beings. Haven’t met any bunch of backwards Civil War mentality people down here. Leave the school name alone. It’s been the same name for more than 50 years. The world in California is too PC with it’s politicians trying to please everyone.

  • Curly Howard

    Historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor, who went through a cache of Lee’s papers discovered in 2002 in a Virginia bank, told US News & World Report that Lee owned slaves that were inherited by his wife, and that he kept them working five years after they expected to be freed.

    yeah, so…..

  • borg1005oatka

    Where will all this idiotic one-up posturing and pandering stop? What’s next? Destroy monuments to Confederate dead? Burn history books? How long before Southern accents are determined to be “Hate Speech”?
    It is a prime example of how our national conversation is now completely dictated by emotion and ignorance rather than reason and facts. The current atmosphere reeks of the Salem Witch Trials.

    Isn’t it amazing how quickly things are moving on an issue that 99.9% of the country couldn’t care about less than a week ago? This was no spontaneous outpouring, this was a carefully contrived campaign waiting for the appropriate trigger. Now we have our lemming-like Media, politicians and Corporate CEOs falling all over themselves to ingratiate themselves by groveling at the feet of the modern-day Brown Shirts.

    We have a media-led revolution to culturally cleanse every single emblem that “offends” someone. Ironically, Roof’s dream of sparking a race war is being fulfilled by the race baiters, politicians and media. But hey, it sure took attention away from the give-away trade bill and the Clinton Foundation scandal.

    These invented controversies we are witnessing are the Politically Correct spasms of a psychotic nation that is rotting out from under our feet like river ice in the spring.

    If you think I’ve jumped the rails, besides the article you just read, consider these recent examples of this lunacy:
    Calls to remove Confederate statues from the US Capitol are gaining momentum.
    Apple Removes All American Civil War Games Because of Confederate Flag
    Amazon Bans Confederate Flags, Still Sells Nazi Merchandise
    Proposals to Remove Jefferson Memorial, Confederate statues
    The Confederate flag is ‘America’s swastika’ (How far are we from “Kristallnacht”?)
    NY Post calls for banning Gone with the Wind. (“Fahrenheit 451” anyone?)
    Baltimore Mayor wants park named for Robert E. Lee changed, other monuments may come down
    The Dukes of Hazzard Just Got Culturally Cleansed (flag removed from reruns).

    Even the buffoons get into the act:
    Al Sharpton to protest Brooklyn street named for Gen. Lee

  • David in Ramona

    So, what will Liberal Lorena re-name the School?….Che Guevara Elementary?…Al Sharpton Middle School?…Karl Marx Indoctrination Institute? If someone does decide to change the name of Lee Elementary, I suggest we force Lorena Gonzalez to pay out of her pocket, all the costs involved in the name change. ‘It’s the right thing to do.’

  • OCchick

    Robert E Lee opposed slavery!!!! The ignorance of people astounds me. The war was not about slavery! Where do people get educated?????

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