Input sought on Confederate name changes at Montgomery schools

The public is being asked for suggestions on new names for three Montgomery high schools; Jeff...
The public is being asked for suggestions on new names for three Montgomery high schools; Jeff Davis H.S., Sidney Lanier H.S., and Robert E. Lee H.S.(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: May. 6, 2021 at 12:31 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Montgomery Public Schools system is moving ahead with the process or renaming three high schools that are associated with people connected to the Confederacy.

The MPS Re-Naming Committee is asking the public for input on name change considerations for Jefferson Davis High School, Robert E. Lee High School, and Sidney Lanier High School.

Davis was the president of the Confederacy, while Lee served as a Confederate general. Lanier was a Confederate soldier and poet.

MPS said the form, which will be available to the public through May 21, includes a space for community members to voluntarily provide a possible new name for each of the schools.

Each suggestion will be considered by the committee with final approval being given by the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Each of the three schools has a majority Black student body, as does the school system as a whole.

Many alumni, students and community members have urged the system to change the names, calling it an insult that Black students must attend schools named for men who fought to keep slavery in place. A petition with more than 20,000 signatures has also buoyed their demands.

In June 2020 protesters took down the statue of Lee outside of the school that is named for him. The following month, the school board voted to rename each school and to create a committee to start the process.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore said at the time that any changes would not happen overnight, cautioning that waivers would need to be signed.

“Otherwise in the short term a school system or group could prepare to pay the $25,000 fine,” Moore said, referring to the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017.

The controversial state law protects historic monuments and buildings from name changes or removal and imposes a $25,000 fine for each violation.

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