In September, Dallas Independent School District officials will tackle the controversial topic of changing the names of five schools which bear the name of Confederate figures.
Thursday night, parents from several of those schools made impromptu pleas to the school board to change the names.
Meanwhile, the alumni of Robert E. Lee Elementary School have started thinking of alternative names and said they have landed on a beloved former teacher at the school.
“I had an idea to think a step ahead and try to make something positive out of it,” William Olsson of Dallas said. “If they are going to rename the school, which seems like it might happen, we have a good person to name it for and that’s one of our teachers.”
Olsson attended the school in 1978 and he will never forget his teacher Mae Wesley, who taught at the school for 25 years. He started a petition, which has grown in support.
“The thought that we can have this situation that has made people feel awful and have a school named after Miss Wesley that we all love and still be able to drive by there and say, ‘Hey that’s pretty good,’” he said.
Olsson said Wesley started teaching when parts of Dallas were still segregated. He said no matter who she taught and no matter their race or background, she made all of her students feel as if they were the same; all special and loved.
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“Let’s do what we learned from Miss Wesley and put aside our differences and think about how we are going to live together,” Olsson said. “Not all this hurt and division. We were one family and Miss Wesley played a big role in making us feel that way.”
Olsson said not everyone in their alumni group supports the name chance.
Dallas ISD will begin discussion about the possible name changes at their Sept. 14 meeting.