A Confederate General's Name Is Under Fire in Long Beach

Pedro Baez walks to the front desk of the Long Beach Unified School District. He's followed by TV photographers and reporters. Baez hands the reception a petition. His first words, "I am delivering this petition to the Long Beach Unified School District requesting that the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary school be dropped A.S.A.P."

This is the latest backlash against the confederacy since the murders of 9 people at an AME Church in South Carolina. First, the Confederate Flag was in the crosshairs and major companies like WalMart, Amazon and Sears stopped selling them. Now, the South Carolina Senate voted to remove the "stars and bars" from the statehouse grounds.

The latest targets include schools and other buildings that honor confederate leaders like General Robert E. Lee. There are reportedly 188 nationwide. At the Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Long Beach, they show their diversity through sketches of school children on a large sign outside the elementary. A school described as 64% Hispanic with the next biggest group being African-American.

Down the street at a nearby park a group of teens playing basketball They all went to Robert E. Lee. They're split on the idea of a name change.

18-year-old Malcolm Brown says he doesn't want it changed "because, I  like the name. I just feel like they should keep Lee Elementary and Lee Lions because that's what we grew up as." Raymer Welch, on the other hand, says it should be changed "because he (Lee) was a confederate leader and black lives matter. We're still here." Pedro Baez agrees with that "because it isn't fair that black and brown children going to a school named for someone who fought to maintain slavery in the South."

Then there is Chris Ramirez. He lives by the school. Grew up in the same place all his life. He thinks the petition drive is misguided.

Says Ramirez, "You want to put a petition together? Build more schools rather than change the name. You could name it for somebody's grandmother for all I care. Build a new school!"

A Long Beach Unified School District official tells FOX11 News that the idea of a name change has not been ruled out, but it's not officially on the table either. The last time the board met was on June the 18th. The next time it meets, and the first time it will have a chance to talk about this will be at its meeting July 20th.

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