Civil Rights Leaders Demand Robert E. Lee School be Renamed

As of Monday, nearly 200 people had signed the online petition.

A petition to rename Robert E. Lee Middle School in Long Beach is moving forward with endorsements from local and national civil rights leaders.

At a press conference Monday, Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson presented 22 endorsements from civil rights leaders. As of Monday morning, nearly 200 people had signed the online petition

"Let Long Beach school officials and the world know that a public school that many children of color attend named after the man who is the nation's most prominent name and face for preserving slavery and treason will not be tolerated," reads the petition.

The petition to rename the school, named after the Confederate general, was first delivered to the Long Beach Unified School District earlier this month.

Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable Political Affairs Director Pedro Baez was expected to speak about the demand for the name change at a Long Beach School Board meeting Monday night.

"The Board's decision to hear public testimony is a good first step toward scraping Confederate names from one of its public schools," Hutchinson said. " However it must now take the final step and rename the school."

A national movement to remove Confederate flags and symbols was sparked after what authorities said was a racially-motivated massacre, in which nine people were shot and killed inside Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The alleged shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, posed next to the Confederate flag. That convinced some that the flag's reputation for white supremacy and racial oppression had trumped its symbolism of Southern heritage and ancestral pride.

Resulting efforts to remove Confederate flags and symbols include the decision to remove the Confederate flag that has been flying in front of the South Carolina Statehouse for 54 years, and from historic federal cemeteries in the Deep South.

In San Diego last month, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said she wanted Robert E. Lee, Elementary School in San Diego Unified School District renamed because of the connotations of the Confederate general.

A SDUSD spokeswoman said it was unlikely a discussion to change the school's name would take place before the 2016-17 school year.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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