After passionate speakers took the podium at the Oklahoma City Public School board meeting Tuesday evening, local historians revealed their findings related to school names and their possible Confederate ties.
They said they didn't have to do much research on whether Stand Watie and Jackson Enterprise Elementary Schools (for Stonewall Jackson) were named after Confederate leaders. But there was uncertainty about two other schools with only last names.
Retired teacher and history enthusiast Barbee Stueve said she looked through school board minutes from 1909 to 1911.
“The main two schools we were looking at were Lee and Wheeler,” said Stueve.
Wheeler Elementary is near a Wheeler Park, which records reportedly show was named after civic leader James Wheeler.
“In 1909, I found a reference in the board minutes to a Wheeler Park school. And that was in 1909 that they were considering making a school in Wheeler Park area,” she said.
An old excerpt from the Capitol Hill Beacon showed principal Arthur Parmelee named Lee Elementary after the Confederate General.
But the nearby street is reportedly named after Oklahoma City businessman, Oscar G. Lee.
Superintendent Lora said she will bring a proposal to the board about possible community engagement on the renaming of the three schools. Board member Charles Henry responded.
“I think it’s a slap in the face to us as African Americans to try to get permission from the community or get input for something as vile and viscous as this,” he said.
The next board meeting is set for September 25.
District officials said they're also looking into a special dedication ceremony for Wheeler Elementary, to officially acknowledge its namesake as civic leader James Wheeler.