Two years ago, a petition campaign failed to convince the school board to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School in the North East ISD. But now, there are two new petition drives underway, as people on both sides of the battle take up the issue again.
The new petition to change the name has a bit of a head start. It was launched three days ago and has more than 1,400 signatures on the website Change.org.
The effort to keep the name started Thursday and it has nearly 1,000 names so far.
Three seniors who attend the school talked about why they are supporting a new name.
Student Marcus Sampson said "It's a scary situation for me," said senior Marcus Sampson, who supported the change two years ago and his level of enthusiasm for the new effort couldn't be higher. "I still have to walk past the statue of this man who fought to keep millions of my ancestors enslaved, and I don't think this is an issue about alumni and them wanting to preserve the history of this school because this is an issue about the kids who are here now and have to sit in class every day and be constantly reminded about a war that was fought over keeping my ancestors, my family, enslaved."
"It warms my heart to see that young people are getting involved," said senior Kenny Strawn, who leads a student political organization.
Strawn said that the current national political climate is encouraging people to voice their opinions.
"On social media, there have been constant calls to action to not just people my age but especially to the board members to actually vote on changing the name instead of shutting the community out," Strawn said. "But it just seems as if the board doesn't want to hear the community speak."
Zander Herrera said that he believes the first day of school will be stressful as students with different points of view advocate for their cause.
"From the first day forward, there's going to be a lot of tension on campus," Herrera said. "People will be really involved, and now that we have the momentum from all the tragic events that happened in Charlottesville, trying again, I think we will be successful this time."
Tony Herrera, Zander's father, says that he's proud to see his son and his friends take a stand and be active for the causes they care about.
"Win or lose, the fact that they stood up and had their voice heard was a win overall I think," said Tony, who added that many community members believe it would be good to change the name of the school to honor two well-loved educators who died within the past year. "They should change the name to somebody who made a difference and have these people be celebrated."
Here are the links to the two opposing petitions
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