Oklahoma City schools named for Confederate generals should be changed without delay

Oklahoma City schools named for Confederate generals should be changed without delay

The following comments were read by Oklahoma City Board Member, Charles Henry, at the September 5 meeting of the Oklahoma City School Board. We’re publishing Mr. Henry’s comments today in support of his position that the Oklahoma City schools named for Confederate generals should be changed without delay. 
 
The School Board hears public comments at each of their regularly scheduled meetings, including the meeting tonight, September 25. Board members are also reachable individually as listed below:

Some of you came today regarding the issue of schools named after confederate generals and whether the names should be removed and if community input is necessary. The Superintendent had stated in the press that the communities surrounding the schools should have input, which I believe are all located on the south side of OKC.

Monuments are being removed across the nation. These confederate monuments, symbols, and representatives started rooting up in the Jim Crow era as a threat to Black Americans and for the expansion of white supremacy ideology and its vestiges of white supremacy and nationalism. For myself, and millions of Black Americans living today, that have died in the last 100 years, those that were slaves, and millions of Americans that are not Black, slavery is defined as an institution that justifies legal rape, legal child molestation, legal murder, legal maiming, legal cutting of body limbs, legalized removal of families, legalized selling of people, legalized brutal beatings of adults and children, legal refusal to allow blacks to read and write, proponent of misinformation of genetic inferiority, etc…
Community input is helpful with issues of closing schools and various educational issues with the Board. Although, I respect to allow voices who disagree with changing the names of these schools, in this case, there is no need for community input regarding a confederate name, monument, or symbol that represents domestic terrorism and advocates for legal raping of woman and raping and molesting of children. My words are pointed for a point.
Nationwide, the monuments, names, and symbols of the confederacy are being removed. In Austin, Texas, the statutes of two confederate generals , one being, Robert E. Lee were removed this past August 21st, in Baltimore, MD, four confederate monuments were removed on the 16th, Brooklyn, NY, Durham, NC, Gainesville, Fl, New Orleans, LA, Boston, MA, Charlottesville, VA, Jacksonville, Fl, Lexington, KY, Memphis, TN, Nashville, TN, Richmond, VA, Kansas City, Stone Mountain, GA, DC, and several other cities.
Last week a school district in San Antonio, TX voted unanimously to change the name of a school named after Robert E. Lee. It was learned today, that Robert Lee IV, a descendant of general Lee, publicly denounced the use of his uncle’s name as a symbol of white supremacy and agreed with the removal of any symbols of him as a confederate general.
There are no excuses. None. Change them. I don’t care if it’s 1 or 4 schools. The OKC community as a whole should be considered, no matter what area you live in, particularly, the thousands upon thousands of black people and other people of color, who are residents of OKC.
I’ve heard people upset because they believed the money should be used for teachers instead, statements defending leaving names up: “General Lee was good to his slaves”, “What’s wrong with just leaving stuff alone, it’s not been a problem all these years, WHY NOW”
“I can only imagine how their descendents are feeling with their ancestors being so demonized. Shame on all of you”
“Very sad to do this.idk what is happening to our COUNTRY” “That’s a shame! These names are part of our History and it’s not all bad!! Geeez! Let it be & Move on people!!!”
“It is sad that people are losing the school they attended 50 maybe 70 years ago. You all should be ashamed of yourselves”
“If they are taken down then every Martin Luther king and Harriet Tubman and all others need to come down. If you won’t accept my history then I won’t accept yours” History is made in the past, but history is also made in the present and future. Many young people are standing up to change the wrongs of society. History is being made showing our country is becoming unified and not influenced by those that want to divide. In the future regarding Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, Jefferson, Washington, there may be some young people that say remove their names, many will be offended, but we can’t dictate our younger generation to accept past practices that are demonizing, some will say “leave it alone”, but they will say no, it’s not right, and we need to make change.
What if the colonies just accepted the suppression from the British, sure there were people saying leave it alone, why change things. During the Civil Rights Movement, people opposed and made similar statements such as What is happening to our country? Leave it alone?
Initially there was concern from some in the OKCPS system with the cost to remove the signage, letterhead, and business cards. The cost stated was approx. $25K-$50K. However, I investigated myself and discovered the cost would be substantially lower to the amount of $2K-$5K. Also, a donor stepped up to pay, Kyle Sweet, my friend, colleague, & Classmate will pay the cost to remove any signage and symbols of any confederate officers on any of the elementary schools in OKC. This means a lot to me and those that support the change for the removal of people and symbols that advocate the preservation of the institution of slavery and its vestiges of white supremacy and nationalism.
He told me no innocent child of color should have to walk in a school that is named after someone that fought to preserve our country’s original sin, slavery, racism and white supremacy. History is being made, when the child in that school will ask why is the name removed and the teacher or parent can say because that name stood for something that was bad in our country, and the new name stands for something good. Racism is not genetic, it’s taught and learned. Young people in OKC, particularly, white kids will not be easily influenced to have racist thoughts because of the stance we take.
There is a refusal and lack of respect of some to acknowledge that Black people have at the minimum a valid point in seeking the removing of names, monuments, statutes, and symbols of a legalized enslavement, rape of black woman and children, and murder, and they are more offended by those to have the audacity to change and remove these remnants than the institution of slavery itself.
Small crowds make big noise. For positive and negative reasons. The Civil Rights Movement was based upon a small sector of society who made their voices loud in order to end segregation. This country is becoming more multicultural and there are small crowds of White Nationalist who are making a loud noise for negative reasons because they see this country being more multi-cultural and unified and they just have to get over it.
The majority of people protesting in Charlottesville against the neo nazis, kkk, and white supremacist did not look like me, they looked like you, but they were there to denounce a system that has suppressed people that looked like me. It’s hard that our President uses it as a political ploy. “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” Ephesians 2:14. The majority of Oklahomans support the name changes. Even those that may not agree with everything they understand if it’s offensive to a large part of our population then they respect our decision. Those that are upset and angry get on social media, but that is not representative of our City as a whole.
The issue about using the money to pay teachers has been solved.
We have learned that Lee Elementary was actually named after the confederate general. Stand Watie was a confederate general, a slaveholder, and signed a treaty that suppressed his own tribe and removed them from their land against his people’s wishes. Stonewall Jackson also said to be good to his slaves stated “it was more important and useful to put the strong hand of the Gospel under the ignorant African race, to lift them up” If he was so nice, what would happen if one of his slaves ran away? His descendants have recently asked that any symbols of him be brought down because they are symbols of racism.
Thank you.