Liberty High School

Give us Liberty: Baton Rouge high school gets a new name

July 20, 2020
East Baton Rouge Parish (La.) board votes to change the name of Lee High School to Liberty High.

Lee High School in Baton Rouge, La., has been renamed.

The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that the East Baton Rouge Parish school board has voted to remove the name associated with the Confederate General Robert E. Lee and give the campus a new name—Liberty High School.

In recent years, the school's name has become a flashpoint among some residents and school leaders. They say it is inappropriate for a school that is 80% Black to be named for a Confederate leader and slave owner.

The latest push to change the school’s name has come amid a reckoning of America’s history of racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day.

Amid that growing pressure, school officials agreed Lee High should be renamed and in past weeks drew thousands of suggestions from the public on what it should be called next

Besides Liberty, other recommendations considered were Louisiana Magnet High School and P.B.S. Pinchback Magnet High School, for Louisiana's and the nation's first Black governor.

The name change will cost an estimated $250,000 to $300,000; only $250 had been raised so far, Superintendent Warren Drake says.

From 1959 to 2016, Lee High had been called Robert E. Lee High School. An effort to rename it in 2016 led to the school board removing “Robert E.” from the school’s name.

Since then, residents and some school board members argued that the tweak to the name wasn't enough. They called for Lee to be stripped from the school's name, saying it is a painful reminder of slavery and racial prejudice.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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