'Lee High' letters removed from newly-named Liberty High School in Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE - Monday, Aug. 3 marked an historical moment for a Baton Rouge school that's just over six decades old.
Liberty High's outdated 'Lee High' sign was removed Monday morning following public outcry that the school be renamed.
Community members were concerned that allowing students to attend a school named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee put disturbing practices associated with the Confederacy in a positive light. So, on Thursday, July 16 East Baton Rouge Parish School Board officials voted to officially change the name.
For many in Baton Rouge, the Monday morning removal of the school's most prominent signs featuring its former name symbolized a significant step forward.
Though renaming Lee High to Liberty High is a costly procedure, some feel it's well worth the effort.
Seeing as the school had an incredible amount of signage on campus -including 'Lee High' signs on classroom doors, benches, and on every piece of weight room equipment- it's anticipated that the school's rebranding will cost more than $250,000.
The nonprofit group New Schools for Baton Rouge in June pledged funds to help replace exterior signs at the south Baton Rouge public high school. A spokeswoman for the group on Friday said the group is still assessing how much that task will cost before it puts up money, but is expecting its donation to be close to its earlier estimate of $50,000.
Beyond that promise, a fundraising effort as of Friday had resulted in only $430.
The push to rename the school followed international outrage over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police officers and reports of other African Americans losing their lives due to officials using excessive force during arrests.
Citizens in Baton Rouge felt that one of the initial steps in truly stamping out prejudice would be to refrain from putting a positive spin on aspects of history that have strong connections to the kidnapping and forced enslavement of Africans.
Allowing a local high school to be named after someone tied to the Confederacy, a form of government that approved of such slavery, hardly seemed the way to curb remaining prejudices against the descendants of those Africans who'd been enslaved under the Confederacy.
Though Monday marks the removal of the school's most prominent sign, additional removals will take place throughout the week.
But the work won't end there. Even more rebranding changes are expected to be made to Liberty High over the next five months.