Monday, March 08, 2010

8 MAR 10: Lee Way

The U.S. Education Secretary visits a Montgomery high school today. Too bad Arne Duncan isn't coming to Columbus - most of the public school teachers would come down with the "blue flu," to plead for more federal funds.

A controversy developed over the weekend about the school Education Secretary Arne Duncan is visiting. He selected Robert E. Lee High in Montgomery -- then the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus called on Duncan to cancel that location. The first wire service reports said that school would be an insult to Martin Luther King Jr. Huh? Is he supposed to start at grade schools and work up?

Later reports explained what Alvin Holmes's real objection is. He says "Montgomery Lee" (as Columbus sports reporters like to call it) opposed Dr. King and the Selma voting rights march in 1965. Holmes must have heard the local pastor I heard this weekend - who said if people don't repent, you never forgive them.

But the Education Department refused to relent Sunday. Aides to Arne Duncan said he'll go ahead and visit Montgomery Lee, for two main reasons. The high school is mostly African-American - and the current principal was two years old in 1965. Translation: get a high-pressure fire hose, to rinse off those old grudges.

Admittedly I misunderstood Alvin Holmes's complaint. I thought he might be objecting to the name of the school Arne Duncan is visiting. Montgomery has high schools named after both Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis - two famous names of the Confederacy. The high schools named after Northerners seem to be Fews, and far between.

(A junior high school in Montgomery is named after Georgia Washington. Since the school is on Georgia Washington Road, I suppose she could be an important name in local history - or it could be a 150-year back-handed slap at the first U.S. President.)

If federal officials are supposed to avoid high schools named after Confederate leaders, I wondered where the boycott might stop. Should they also avoid cities and counties with Confederate names? That would mean avoiding Lee County, until the name is changed -- or until one word is added, in honor of Auburn University alum Lee Brantley.

(That's not so far-fetched an idea. King County, Washington commissioners decided several years ago to declare the county named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, instead of a former Vice President. If only Jason Lee of Eufaula had won some Emmy Awards for "My Name is Earl....")

Thankfully, Russell County doesn't face this sort of problem. It's named after a Third Infantry Division Colonel from the War of 1812. If someone tries to tell you it's named after the athletic wear company, ask them why it hasn't inspired more of the county high school's sports teams to play better.

There's also no Confederate name issue when it comes to Muscogee County Schools. None of the schools are named for national leaders from either the North or South. And if officials would emphasize St. Elmo and Saint Mary's Road Elementary a bit more, the home-schoolers might come back.

-> Poker made news over the weekend, from Las Vegas to Germany. We cover those items and much more at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: Uh-oh - the TV stations which covered last week's Phenix City Council meeting may have their facts wrong. A blog reader alerted us to a Ledger-Enquirer article, which says last week's meeting was NOT about the Downtown Redevelopment Authority after all. If Chair J.W. Brannen hasn't filed a lawsuit yet, that could be accurate....

The newspaper report claims Phenix City Council actually is bringing back the Department of Economic Development, which was dropped by former Mayor Jeff Hardin. That means at least two new city jobs - and amazingly, Phenix City can do it with NO help from federal stimulus funds.

We called Phenix City Hall Friday afternoon to get to the bottom of this, but a message left with City Manager Wallace Hunter has not been returned. Wow, that's happened to us a lot lately. Do you think it's time to try a new mouthwash?

Let's clear up any confusion from Sunday's news....

+ The high temperature in Columbus was 62 degrees F. Is it possible that spring is finally going to arrive this week? Two weeks late for the start of my Serious Spring Cleaning?

+ Columbus Police reported someone broke into the Dollar General store on Manchester Expressway - and stole an assortment of products ranging from film and batteries to Old Spice body wash. [True/Ledger-Enquirer] He can submit his pictures to WTVM's web site, because I don't want to see them....

+ Kurt Busch won the NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Columbus race fans who had to run errands during the afternoon were left frustrated, because no local radio station carried the Performance Racing Network broadcast. When WSTH-FM changes its name back to "South 106" and then drops PRN, you get the feeling a hard-core Yankee is running the place.

+ Instant Message to anyone expecting insightful analysis of Sunday night's Academy Awards: Sorry, wrong blog. I stopped going to first-run movies 29 years ago. But I'd imagine the supporters of "Avatar" are feeling - uh, well, you know - a little blue today.

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