MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama school board has decided to rename high schools that honor two Confederate leaders and a poet who served in the rebel army.
News outlets reported that the Montgomery County Board of Education voted Tuesday to change the names of high schools honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and poet Sidney Lanier, who was a Confederate soldier.
The board will now either have to get a waiver of a 2017 state law guarding Confederate memorials or pay a $25,000 fine for each renaming. Board member Jannah Bailey said a private group had raised more than $42,000 toward paying the penalties.
A debate over the school names began amid protests over racial inequality following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. Someone ripped down a Lee statue outside his namesake school during the demonstrations.
The board voted 6-1 in favor of renaming Jeff Davis and Lee high schools and 5-2 to rename Lanier. Opponents said the Georgia-born Lanier was known more for his poetry and music than his service in the Confederate army.
“History is not here for us to like it or dislike it. Most of you are affected by it, and I see that and understand it, but that’s a good thing to be offended because that means we will never repeat it. All lives matter. History matters,” said board member Lesa Keith, who voted against renaming the schools.
Several in the audience walked out in response to Keith’s remarks.