City Schools Must Come Eye to Eye with History

Maintain the name Robert E. Lee Elementary School

by Daniel Smiechowski

If there is anything that I am passionate about, it is history. The past is immutable and a window to the future. That is why it is so important to embrace our heritage and acts of the ages both good and bad. We hopefully learn from past discretions.

Recent precipitating events in America, including the cold blooded shooting of African-American innocents in a Charleston church as well as unprovoked aggression by law enforcement involving mostly young black American men has called for a sea change in assessing America’s complicity in the Civil War.

The San Diego Unified School District held a meeting on Friday, October 23 at the Robert E. Lee Elementary School beginning at 6:00pm. The purpose of this assembly was to gauge public opinion on renaming the institution in the face of mounting pressure against any mention of old social and political wounds arising out of the Civil War and directed at the African American community. This is baloney!

I have dedicated my entire life in speaking truth and standing hand in hand with my African-American brothers. Years ago, I was invited to speak before San Diego’s Baptist Ministers as well as the local chapter of the Urban League not to mention being elected to the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee. The Confederate flag is a separate issue, it is clearly a symbol of oppression and ought to be removed from the public domain. But, Robert E. Lee was an American Army General and most importantly represents history. History does not discriminate. We learn and adjust to past events as we glorify the good and condemn the bad.  President James K. Polk was not kind in his relations with Mexico and ruthlessly annexed most of the southwest to the United States. Does that mean we purge his name from history? Where does all this political correctness end?

The folks that brought all of this nonsense forward probably never heard of Milwaukee’s Father Groppi and his civil disobedience by marching into “The city of churches” south side with hordes of Black folk. I remember well. My Father attended the same seminary as the good Catholic priest. Every American must feel the pain of our African American brothers, but every American must face the truth and the reality of our nation’s history. The events of over one hundred fifty years ago were predicated on the morality and economics of the time. Most reasonable and rational Americans understand that in context.

Please do not blind future generations of truth and historical fact. Let us maintain the name Robert E. Lee with the understanding that it remains part of our heritage, good or bad.

Be nice, do good deeds and don’t be a stranger as we at The Clairemont Times value your participation.

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