A San Antonio school board has voted to change the name of its Robert E. Lee High School, citing the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia as the impetus for no longer wanting to honor the Confederate general.
The unanimous vote, on Tuesday night, came from the same board that two years ago opted not to change the 59-year-old high school’s name. Several board members said the nation’s attitude toward symbols of the Confederacy now has shifted.
Local and state leaders across the country have taken similar actions after an Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville by white nationalists opposed to plans to move a Lee statue there turned deadly when a man crashed a car into counter-protesters, killing one woman.
On Wednesday, the city commission in Hollywood, Florida is due to decide whether to rename streets honoring Lee and fellow Confederate generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Bell Hood.
The city’s debate over the street names began before the Charlottesville clashes but has taken on renewed significance.
About 150 people gathered in Hollywood, about 20 miles north of downtown Miami, on Wednesday afternoon calling for commissioners to vote in favor of the name changes.
“Lee, Forrest and Hood don’t belong in Hollywood,” the protesters chanted, according to a video posted on the Sun-Sentinel newspaper’s website.
In San Antonio, a petition to change the school’s name got 3,600 signatures, while a counter petition to keep it was signed by 6,000 people, the San Antonio Express-News newspaper reported.
A Lee High School alumna and former teacher, Leslie Wilson, was bothered by the school board’s decision.
“What happened in Charlottesville has absolutely nothing to do with San Antonio,” she said.
But Christopher Herring, who heads the Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce, said local students realized that the name of their school was out of step.
“This has nothing to do with erasing history or removing history,” Herring said. “Our country was based on change.”
The vote will not affect the school for the current year, and a new name has not been chosen.
(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Steve Orlofsky)