Community members speak out for and against changing Midland Lee’s name

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"I was hurt. It's a very silent reminder of 'We want you down here, and not with us.'"

MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Some Midlanders have been pushing to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School. A petition has been started to urge the Midland Independent School District’s Board of Trustees to take action.

“That’s just not acceptable,” said Midlander and Lee alum, Courtney Ratliff. “Midland, Texas is better than that and we need to do better right now.”

Ratliff recalls 2017 – the year the last petition to rename Robert E. Lee High School was not enough to catch the attention of the school district. He says this time it must be different.

“Everyone seems to realize that the time for change is right now. But unfortnately, school board president, Rick Davis, didn’t feel it was necessary to put it on his agenda,” said Ratliff.

While it has not been the first of its kind, Ratliff started another petition to help remove the name himself. So far, there are more than five thousand signatures.

“To see the name Robert E. Lee, I was stunned,” recalled Mercedes Buchanan. “I was hurt. It’s a very silent reminder of ‘We want you down here, and not with us.’ It’s time for those things to change, and it’s time for us to go, because we’re all the same in God’s eyes.”

Buchanan, a New York native, has relocated to West Texas for her husband’s job. She says she has experienced racial microagressions, first-hand, in Midland, Texas.

“We have a long way to go here. For equality and equity,” explained Buchanan. “There’s a lot of hush hush that goes on, and people try to throw these things under the rug, but during the new civil rights movement, we can’t hide it anymore.”

But in the audience at Monday night’s meeting, there was another perspective. Midlander, Tammy McKinney, says while we must learn from the past, tearing down history is not the answer.

“That name is not going to hurt you. It’ll only hurt you if you let it hurt you. If I let the Indian Braves hurt me, then I’m going to let it hurt me. But I know who I am, and I’m going to keep pressing. Live, if you know who you are, live.

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