A Michigan High School’s Black Confederate Mural

As if our national love affair with Confederate imagery couldn’t get any more bizarre, a high school in Michigan is having trouble dealing with its historically inaccurate namesake.  What exactly do I mean?  Lee High School has adopted various aspects of Confederate symbolism over the years, including a dedication to R.E. Lee in the 1936 yearbook, and in the 1960’s the battle flag appeared as part of the marching band’s uniform, and another much larger battle flag graced the school’s hallway wall.  According to the principal the school’s name has nothing to do with the Confederate general:

According to Britten’s research, the school took its name from the street on
which it stands. It was renamed Lee Street from State Street in 1914, possibly
because the first family to live there was named Leyla. The district was named
for the high school and the Godfrey School that preceded it.

Wait, the story gets better.

The board and the high school sports boosters commissioned former student Arturo
Araujo to paint the Lee High School Rebel mascot on a gym wall.  The board
of education threatened to withhold payment because the artist painted the
Confederate Rebel with a dark skinned face, unlike the sketch he provided when
he was hired.

Here is the artist’s justification of his work:

I was shooting to represent the whole student body," says artist Arturo Araujo.
"75 percent colored, 25 percent caucasion. That was the whole idea of painting
the mural. So the whole school is represented by it’s mascot.

Don’t you just love the idea of a multi-cultural Confederate rebel?  I hope they don’t remove this mural, though I am just a bit concerned that those who are pushing the black Confederate story will use this as just another piece of evidence.  I can hear it now: "You see, even some Yankees in Michigan have acknowledged the existence of the black Confederate.  What more evidence do you need?"

2 comments… add one
  • Kevin Levin Jul 16, 2006 @ 15:51

    Hi Jimmy, — I am going to take your comment regarding the History Channel and suggest that you not assume it to be a reputable source. As to the story in question you are going to need to find analyze its source. Who wrote it and what do you know about the author? When was it written and where was it published? The biggest problem that advocates for black Confederates face is the poor analysis that tends to accompany their evidence. What exactly do you mean when you say “black Confederate?” Are we talking about a slave that accompanied their master to war or perhaps a slave that has been hired to work in the army? What exactly are we referring to when we refer to black Confederates? Good luck.

  • Jimmy Shirley Jul 16, 2006 @ 14:28

    I was watching the History Channel a few months back. There was a story about the Union POW camp in Chicago called Camp Douglas, named for Stephen A. Douglas. The presentation was called “80 Acres of Hell”. Anyway, there was a specific mention of a Black Confederate. It told how this man was simply summarily shot and killed by the guards from their posts as he walked into the camp. And, for no apparent reason, other than their blinding hatred of Black people.
    So, I am thinking if the History Channel said so, then it must be true, that there were some Black Confederates.

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