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Petition to change name of Tulsa's Lee Elementary gains momentum

Petition to change name of Tulsa's Lee Elementary gains momentum (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- More than a thousand signatures and counting.

Antigone LaVoi, 26, created the petition to change the name of Lee Elementary in Tulsa.

"Yeah, I honestly had no idea it would take off like this," said LaVoi.

RELATED | Violence breaks out in Charlottesville as white nationalists protest removal of Confederate monuments

LaVoi said she wasn't sure of an end game with the petition, but she figured it was a start.

"I wasn't exactly sure who had the ability to change the name. But I knew that an overwhelming response from the community would definitely sway an elected official, or anyone who might be in that position of power," said LaVoi.

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist would be that person, and it's certainly caught her attention. During a press conference Monday, she said changing the name is something they're considering.

"The board and I will be working with a group of community members to take a look at our schools and make sure the names of all of our schools are reflective of our core values. And in the event we determine they're not, we will take steps at that time," said Gist.

It's about as specific as she got.

But for people who’ve had children attend Lee School, it's a good start.

"I have to be honest with you. This has been a soul searching topic for me honestly," said Carter, who has ancestors who fought for the Confederacy.

He says he was taught from an early age to respect the Confederate flag.

"We were taught that it was the noble cause. That's what my dad would say," said Carter. "And for us, it wasn't about slavery. The battle flag wasn't about slavery, it wasn't about racism. We more identified it as a white, working-class culture."

But Carter said when accused gunman Dylan Roof killed nine people at a North Carolina church, his opinion changed.

Now he said it's time to change the name.

"If it's a matter of healing, yes, If we need to change the Brady District from Tate Brady, a Clansman who took part in the race riot that happened here, Yes," said Carter.

So far, Gist hasn't said how long the process of changing the name of a school like Lee could take.

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