Austin39s Robert E Lee Elementary School will become Russell Lee Elementary Austin ISD

Austin's Robert E. Lee Elementary School will become Russell Lee Elementary.

Austin's Lee Elementary will remain Lee Elementary--but not that Lee

Austin (Texas) board removes name of Confederate general in favor of Russell Lee, a photographer and former University of Texas professor

The Austin (Texas) school board has decided that Lee Elementary will remain Lee Elementary—but the name no longer refers to the former Confederate Army general.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the board, which decided earlier this year that it would rename the Robert E. Lee Elementary School, has chosen Russell Lee Elementary as the new name for the campus.

The name was chosen to honor a critically acclaimed Depression-era photographer who was the founding professor of the University of Texas photography department. Russell Lee lived in the neighborhood that includes the school, and his name was the one favored by the school’s parents and teachers.

Removing the Robert E. Lee name is the first time the Austin district has changed a school's name because of its connection to the Confederacy.

The debate over the name change arose last year after an avowed racist killed nine African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C. church. It prompted a national conversation about whether Confederate flags and other symbols that could be interpreted as pro-slavery or racist belong in public spaces and buildings.

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