Debate intensifies as some want names of Tyler high schools to remain the same

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Robert E. Lee and John Tyler are two high schools whose names are in the center of a national discussion.

The debate has continued for several years, and has recently been brought up after the death of George Floyd in police custody. Many say the name reminds them of a segregated while others say changing the name won’t change history.

For those who want to keep the name, they say the change isn’t worth the cost.

“So let’s take that money that they’re wanting to spend changing the name. Let’s put it toward our teachers, let’s put it toward our education because it would be much better spent there,” said April Chennault, Robert E. Lee class of 1985.

Chennault also feels that changing the name reminds everyone of a historic past.

“History is what makes us. If you’re born here, you’re from the South. That is our southern heritage. We don’t have to agree with every piece of it, but that is still our southern heritage,” she said.

However, there are two sides to the debate. While Chennault thinks the district should keep the name, others feel it’s time for a change.

“They can talk about the confederate flag and Robert E. Lee being a part of their heritage. The confederacy lasted four, not even five years, that no heritage, it’s hatred,” said Darryl Bowdre, former city council member.

For some people it’s not just about heritage or history, it’s about creating a movement in the 21st century. One member of Robert E. Lee’s class of 2000 shared this statement with us.

The Tyler ISD board is set to discuss the name change at special meeting held on Thursday at 6 p.m.

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