• Phil Latham

Trude Lamb and the importance of taking a stand

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

I don’t know Trude Lamb, the young woman who attends Tyler Robert E. Lee High School and has made national news with her pledge not to wear the name of the school as a competing athlete.

Good for her. She has more courage than at least half of our elected officials and the consequences of standing up are far more serious for her. The worst that will happen to them is to be voted out of office. That just means they can graduate to making even more money as a lobbyist or commentator.

For those of you who remember high school, think about the possibilities of being ostracized, of losing support from coaches, of having been marked by the administration as “someone to watch.”

That’s merely the beginning, though. There is no telling how much hate mail – or email, or texts, or private messages or old-fashioned telephone calls Lamb has gotten. Most of them will have been anonymous and vile. The Tyler Morning Telegraph says Tyler ISD is investigating such messages, so it has happened.

The overt racism and threats will continue because that is the only way some people know how to deal with the situation. It will continue because there are not any valid arguments for keeping the name. Intimidation by racism is a last resort.

That tactic has, thus far, worked on the majority of members of the Tyler ISD school board but I would be surprised if it worked on Trude Lamb. It seems as if she’s had enough.

I checked the comments written on Instagram posts and Facebook. None of them were particularly offensive. Most of them, though, were particularly clueless.

“Why does that name bother you?” one person wrote. “It’s just a name.”

Let’s see, why would a Black person be offended attending a high school named for a man who is remembered best for trying to safeguard the evil institution of slavery through war? I don’t think that question actually deserves an answer. If you don’t get it by now, no amount of education, no matter how elementary, is going to enlighten you.

Also, if Robert E. Lee is “just a name,” why would it bother anyone if it was removed? Pick a name from the Tyler telephone book. It’s bound to be less controversial than Robert E. Lee who had no connection with Tyler other than leading an army of rebels.

Another person wrote: “It’s our heritage and has nothing to do with hate.”

I disagree. East Texas and the south in general, does not have a heritage of being traitorous to the United States, which Lee clearly was. It doesn’t matter how you look at it, Lee took his education at West Point and turned what he learned against his country. That’s not someone to be proud of.

We don’t celebrate Gen. George Armstrong Custer and he wasn’t a traitor, just bloodthirsty and foolish. We don’t celebrate draft dodgers who fled to Canada who, after all, weren’t traitors, they did not fight against the United States, merely refused to fight for it.

“Slavery ended 150 years ago, can’t you just get over it?” another person asked.

You might think that 150 years would be long enough for people to get “over” Lee and his band of rebels, too. But some never want to stop fighting the civil war.

Good for you, Trude, and stick to your ideals. I cannot promise you that it will be easy but years from now, you will feel the satisfaction of knowing you were right and stood up when it mattered.

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