I am writing as a proud 1966 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School. I am also a descendant on both sides of my family of men who fought in the Confederate Army, and I am the great-grandson of a man who owned slaves in Tennessee. I am for good or ill imbued with the Confederate “heritage’ that so many people today advance as the justification for retaining statues and names from that era.

Among the memorabilia left to my family by my great-grandfather is a handwritten document on a scrap of paper. It says “William Trout enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1862 and bequeaths to his children the proud consciousness of having served faithfully in the ranks of the South’s defenders.” He served in Andrew Jackson Jr.’s artillery brigade at Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay, Alabama, and was taken prisoner after the Battle of Mobile Bay. He spent the remainder of the war in a prison camp in Elmira, New York, from where he walked back to Tennessee after being released at war’s end. He is not recorded as a war hero anywhere, but like many others, he endured fear and hardship as he performed what he perceived to be his duty.

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(11) comments

BayTX

Mr. Trout - Are you going to "put your money where your mouth is" and move back to Baytown to help us taxpayers pay for the renaming of seven schools? Yes, seven -- REL is not the only school with ties to slavery and the KKK.

BayTX

Mr. Trout - I forgot to mention we really will need your tax dollars as more and more people are disgusted with the schools in GCCISD and are moving away.

We have already lost many Baytonians to the Barbers Hill School District and will be losing more so we really need your money to pay for all of these name changes!

LCL

I think BAYTX your reaction is unfair to Mr. Trout who has clearly thought long and hard about this issue. I agree with Mr. Trout and applaud his courage! If "the cost of changing the names" is your best argument that is a pretty weak position. We have wasted far more taxpayer dollars on more trivial things in Baytown. When students enter a school to learn, they should not have to look up at a name that stood for white supremacy at the highest levels of political power. Children should look up to astounding people who did things to improve American lives - people they want to emulate! I believe the breakdown at Robert E Lee in 2019 was 10 percent non-Hispanic, 73 Hispanic, 15 percent Afro-American and 2 percent other. The school no longer serves a student population of predominantly white like in decades past. Lee's name has long been an uncomfortable fit. We should not dismiss history. "However, we also should not revere a man who betrayed his country in defense of the institution of slavery by making our public schools’ shrines to his legacy." "Can you look into that young Afro-American girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her?” You know you cannot! It is time for Baytown to do the right thing. We would not be erasing history. We would be simply be abolishing a symbol.

The name change is a long overdue, long-term educational investment well worth our taxpayer dollars. As Maya Angelou once said, prejudice is a burden that confused the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible. Healing the divisions caused by bigotry is never easy. Why not begin with the easiest of things, such as a name change, which start us in the right direction by eradicating clear links to our racist history?

BayTX

Do remember this country from the beginning was based on slavery, and it was wrong but it's the facts. Our history is complicated but it is still the greatest country in the world!

Once you all have gotten rid of the White history, will you start removing Black history? For instance, the Buffalo soldiers were the Black U.S. cavalrymen who served on the frontier during the Indian wars. The Native Americans could claim that the Buffalo Soldiers were participants in a genocidal war against the entire race of American Plans Indians resulting in their enslavement on reservations!

Also, the way some of you have talked about past and current leaders, you might want to take a look at Martin Luther King -- he definitely had his flaws, too!

There is bigotry on all sides!

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” — George Orwell

baytownbert

We need to renamed all schools to annex numbers so no one gets offended. Never mind, someone who hates numbers will cry foul and throw a hissy fit until everyone crumbles in their path..

Erasing our country's history is a giant step backwards and will doom us to repeat it.

BayTX

Amen!

Susan Cummings

As a lifelong Baytonian, whose ancestors moved here more than 100 years ago, I unequivacally agree with former trustee and REL grad Rick Trout.

baytownbert

As a Baytonian of 46 years, I unequivocally disagree with former Baytown resident and REL grad Rick Trout and I even know how to spell unequivocally and me with only a public high school education. However, rather than copping out by piggy-backing on someone else for my entire response, I want to go on record and say changing the name of our dear school will get zero credit from the racists pushing this agenda. No credit at all, so why change it for a few when so many love the school and its great history of molding students for a lifetime. Make no mistake; those that push removing history are more bigoted than those who support the placing of historical reminders.

rmartin

Not at all surprising SC. The democrat party owns the erasing of American history of which they will pay. Write it down. Look at all the history teachers past and present the democrats have disrespected. I assume all the present that are "D's" can switch to liberal indoctrination, climate change and lying about Polar bears....

rmartin

Way to throw all the past, present and future history teachers under the bus SC. Doesn't matter anymore because the left is destroying history...

deecue

Mr. Trout,

I read your letter to the editor from July 11 and I was surprised at your one dimensional viewpoint of Robert E. Lee. Allan Stone recently wrote the first part of two part series on Robert E. Lee and why he shouldn't be labeled a traitor. I also understand that you're a lawyer, which surprised me even more! Mr. West points out that part of the instruction Lee received at West Point was legal in nature and specifically about the Constitution. I'm not sure if you love history or not, but I highly recommend Mr. West's 1st opinion piece. I love history because it teaches me how our country came to be and all of the sacrifices that ALL Americans have made. Plus, I learn something new or something nuanced that forces me to re-consider my own viewpoints of our collective past.

One of the more interesting aspects of Lee was that he believed in doing his duty and doing one's duty, as my dad taught me, is to be consistent in your actions and your thoughts. He also taught me that when I came across information that challenged what I thought I knew, to be man enough to change that viewpoint.

Sadly, I don't think you'll change your mind on your personal viewpoints on the past as it appears that you have already made up your mind as to the 'truth' of those viewpoints. And you should remain consistent on both your actions and viewpoints. It's the duty of all men to do so.

If you support the idea that a school name should be named because someone was a traitor, then perhaps, to remain consistent both in actions and viewpoints, I'm sure you would agree that you support renaming the state you currently live in. Washington after all was a traitor to the British Empire he served, plus, he was a slave owner. I'm sure you would also support the renaming of our capital for the same reason. You would also need support the removal of all monuments to Washington as well as remove of all references to Washington that currently exists all over this natio. If so, you'd need to also support all removal of all current references to Thomas Jefferson as well. He also was a traitor to the British Empire and a slave owners. And if you support both of those, should we all, as a nation, renounce the Declaration of Independence of and apply for re-admittance to the United Kingdom? Should ALL Americans also renounce our Constitutional rights that we ALL currently enjoy as Americans? That same Constitution that over 1.1 million military men and women of all colors, races and creeds have died to protect?

After all, both of those great documents were written by traitors and slave owners.

Thank you for time.

Don

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