By Roosevelt Wright, Jr.
Across America memorials and building names that salute men who fought against the United States are being protested, except in Monroe. We are the nation in reverse; we have taken down the name of an American hero and left up the name of an enemy of the union.
That’s what the Monroe City School Board did when it voted this year to replace the name of Abraham Lincoln Elementary with that of a popular former principal. Lincoln’s name wasn’t transferred to another building, it was dumped, forever. While Lincoln’s memorial was dumped, that of the nation’s greatest symbol the Southern Way of Life, Robert E. Lee was not even discussed and remained on Northside school with a predominately black student population.
Robert E. Lee was one of the greatest military leaders of American history, but he also refused to command the United States Army, but became commander of the armies of the Confederate States of America.
Biographers agree that Lee believed Blacks were better off in America as slaves rather than being free in Africa. In his personal letters, he wrote that the discipline of slavery prepared blacks to live as free people in the United States one day. When he inherited more than sixty slaves, he became a slave owner and hired overseers to manage them for five years.
As a Confederate General, he ordered his troops to capture free Blacks and force them to fight for the Confederate armies.
Lee, known as the “Virginia Gentleman,” was a scholar and a gentleman, but he fought against the United States. The Constitution say a person who engages in an “Act of War” against the United States are traitors. That makes Lee a hero to the South, but an American traitor.
Lee was the owner of sixty slaves when the Civil War began and he led the Southern States in a War to maintain a states’ right to maintain slavery as an institution if it pleased to do so. That fact soils his memory and led to the military deaths of over 618,000 people.
It’s no doubt that Roebert E. Lee, while loved by those who idolize “old times” in the South, was an American traitor.
In all of America there are only eleven schools that bear the full name of Robert E. Lee. There is only one in Louisiana and that’s Robert E. Lee Jr. High School in Monroe, La.
In Monroe there has been no protest of the continued tribute to General Lee, even though the Monroe City School Board has a Black majority.
What’s amazing is that Monroe’s Black Majority School Board not only ignores the need to change the name of a school that salutes the Confederacy, this year it voted unanimously to remove the name of Abraham Lincoln and replace it with the name of a popular former principal.
The act cannot be ignored because every black neighborhood in America has something named after four national personalities who promoted the improvement of our race: Martin Luther King, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver and Abraham Lincoln.
These buildings bear the names of people whose ideas and values symbolized our best hopes as a people. In Monroe, there is a Martin Luther King street and school. There is a Booker T. Washington neighborhood; a George Washington Carver Library Branch and a Carver Public Housing Complex.
The only tribute to Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, who saved the union, freed the slaves and passed the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery in America, was the Abraham Lincoln Elementary school in the Booker T. Community.
His tribute was removed this year to honor a popular principal who recently died. However, when the Parish Police Jury decided to honor the first Black Librarian at the Carver Branch Library, they did not remove the name of George Washington Carver from the Library, they just added Odalie McDonald’s name. It became the Carver/McDonald Branch. The tribute to Dr. Carver remained.
In short, the city school board took down the name of Abraham Lincoln completely and sees nothing wrong with leaving the name of Robert E. Lee in place.
We have made history. We are one of 11 cities in the entire nation that still pay tribute to the Confederacy through schools name in Lee’s honor.
We also have become the first city in America where a Black Majority school board ordered the removal of the name of Abraham Lincoln.
Officially, Monroe becomes one of the few cities in America without a single memorial to Abraham Lincoln.
What a way to make history!