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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

Petitions to keep Lee High School's name are being disabled

Websites like change.org and moveon.org are taking those petitions down because of "inappropriate content.”

MIDLAND, Texas — It has been a few days since the Midland Independent school board voted 6-1 to change Lee High School's name.

The school was named after Robert E. Lee, a leader in the Confederate army which fought for slavery and state's rights in the Civil War.

But many in the community are upset about the change-so much so, they've created petitions to keep the name.

However, websites like change.org and moveon.org are taking those petitions down because of "inappropriate content.”

Monday's vote was a relief for Lee High School alum Courtney Ratliff.

Ratliff, an advocate for the name change, started the original petition. 

"I made this petition because the moment in american is right for change. People in our country are understanding the effects of racism and understanding that an institutions name has so much power," said Ratliff.

But for other Lee alums like Midland County Judge Terry Johnson, the change is not what he wanted, so the judge made a petition of his own.

"My uncle was in the first graduating class, I graduated there, my son and then my granddaughter. In 2 years I will have my 50th class reunion. This is not about memories, this is about history," Johnson told NewsWest 9 in an email.

Many of the websites Judge Johnson and other people have used to create petitions for keeping the name have been disabling the petitions.

"Maintaining names that were adopted for the stated purpose of honoring and celebrating the Confederacy is unconscionable and cements an unequal educational environment for African American citizens,” said moveon.org.

Judge Johnson says that wasn't his intention.

He just started the petition to  "give a vehicle to those of us who only have our single voices."

Petitions to keep Lee High School’s name are being disabled. Why is that?

Posted by Sammi Steele on Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ratliff thinks if people like Judge Johnson had a problem with the name change, they should have spoken up sooner.

"This was in the news for two months, people have the nerve to say they didn't have the chance to voice their opinion This was an ongoing conversation everywhere and if people felt the way they did, they had the opportunity to speak up for months," said Ratliff.

For now, Lee High School will keep its name until recommendations are submitted by the citizen's committee.

The Superintendent will then present those recommendations to the school Board for final approval no later than October 19, 2020.

This means that when school resumes, the signs saying "Lee High School" will likely still be up.