Now’s not the time for REL debate, GC board prez says
(Goose Creek last state district with school named after Robert E. Lee)
Ms. Jessica Woods, GCCID Board President:
Board: Howard Sampson | Agustin Loredo III | Jessica Woods | Richard Clem | Ben Pape | Tiffany Guy | Shae Cottar
An article in the July 30, 2020 edition of the Baytown Sun reports you as “suggesting the Robert E. Lee High School name-change debate should take a back seat to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Sun continues: “She also said now is not the appropriate time due to the pandemic and the subsequent legion of school reopening issues.”
With all respect due such reasoning, one has nothing to do with the other. The long-overdue name change will affect neither school-opening nor any health issues related to COVID-19. This was true for Robert E. Lee High School in Fairfax, Virginia where the School Board voted to no longer honor a traitor to America and changed the name on July 24, 2020 to honor John R. Lewis. So, how do you want history to record your name and those of your board members?
From Dr. Martin Luther King: “We are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. It is not enough to say it will get better by and by. Each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”
—Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the late John R. Lewis: “To those who have said, “Be patient and wait,” we have long said that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now!”
—The Honorable John R. Lewis–(age 23) March on Washington, August 28, 1963.
We African Americans are all too familiar with 400 years of the “Now is not the time” refrain.
- We heard “Now is not the time” in the decades that embraced “Separate but equal,” prior to the 1954 Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
- We heard “Now is not the time” when we were told that slavery was good for “colored folks—Negroes” because of “benevolent masters.”
- We not only heard “Now is not the time,” we heard “Never,” when George Wallace stood in the school doorway blocking desegregation of the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963. He said: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” His words may well have been uttered by racist, hate-filled General Robert E. Lee. What he actually asserted—“the relation of master and slave…is the best that can exist between the black and white races”—was worse.
You graduated from Kingwood High School in 1989.
Would you be proud to have graduated from Hirohito High School, named for the Emperor of Imperial Japan? Hirohito was responsible for the deaths of Americans during the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor and, like Robert E. Lee, was determined to destroy America? Of course not.
Now is not the time?
When is the time?
Now is the time. History and our nation declares it is so.
NOTE: I graduated from G. W. Carver High School in Baytown Texas. This storied, highly respected, tradition-rich, award-winning institution, named after Dr. George Washington Carver, was razed and the debris carted off by the G.C.C.I.S.D of Baytown, Texas in 1967. Yet, it lives on in history’s archives, and in the hearts, minds, and souls of those who will never let it be forgotten.
Except for the heroic efforts of J. Warren Singleton, former student and relentless community activist/former coach and educator, the memorial marker identifying its existence would not exist.
George Washington Carver High School
George Washington Carver High School Marker
Russell Hamman, of Baytown, Texas is another who has long demonstrated his commitment to keeping the history of Baytown’s G.W. Carver High School, and the contributions of blacks alive.
Finally, I humbly suggest the Robert E. Lee High School be renamed:
George Washington Carver High School. This will be a fitting and just rebirth of an institution of such notable achievement, and too quickly reduced to rubble.
George Washington Carver – a Scientist, artist, professor, leader,
humanitarian and creative genius.
While George Washington Carver’s rise from slavery to scientific accomplishment has inspired millions, time has reduced him to the man who did something with peanuts. This documentary uncovers Carver’s complexities and reveals the full impact of his life and work.
Let your voices be heard. Connect and express your thoughts here or at the following:
Pulitzer-nominated author, past Oprah guest author
Carrie Cartwright, author