Midland ISD may no longer use references to Confederacy

Complaint from parent prompts board to urge a new fight song and name for yearbook

MIDLAND — Directors of the Midland Independent School District are considering dropping Confederate references at two schools named for Robert E. Lee in response to a parent’s complaint.

The board directed school officials last week to consider changing Robert E. Lee Freshman High School’s yearbook to something other than "The Confederate."

It also asked officials to consider changing the Dixie fight song at Lee Freshman and at Robert E. Lee High School.

Parent Shay Templeton, who is black, complained after noticing the name of her son’s yearbook. She said she wants all references to the Confederacy eliminated from school clubs, events and publications but did not suggest changing the schools’ names.

Annual renamed in 1979
"My son’s face was in this (yearbook). I didn’t know the name of the book when I bought it," she said in Wednesday editions of the Midland Reporter-Telegram.

"We support nothing Confederate in our home. It would be remembering a time … oppressive to the black community," she said.

Lee Freshman Principal Larry Winget said students named the yearbook through a contest in 1979, the same year the school changed its name from Austin to Lee.

In 1991, the school board discontinued the schools’ use of the Confederate flag. It also agreed to use a variation of Dixie for the fight song.

Board President James Fuller said he remembers when a compromise was struck in 1991 to ban the Confederate battle flag.

‘Step in the right direction’
He said it did a "significant bit" to reduce community tensions and that he doesn’t perceive the same level of tension over the remaining Confederate symbols.

However, he said the original version of Dixie has been creeping back into use and needs to be addressed.

Board member Tommy Bishop said changing the name of the annual would be a "step in the right direction."

He also said that playing Dixie when the band and sports teams go to other communities creates an image problem for the district.

Lee High Principal Patrick Jones said changing the name of Lee Freshman’s yearbook would probably have to be voted on by the school’s student body.


On The Web: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/4112219.html