'Robert E. Lee ' name expected to come off Lowell Showboat

Robert E Lee name change

LOWELL, MICH (WZZM) - Lowell City Manager Mike Burns indicated to the 13 Watchdog team today the city is intending to take steps this week to remove the "Robert E. Lee" name from the Lowell showboat.

The name has been on four ships docked to the city's river side in that location for decades but now that a new ship is being built to replace the existing one, the city wants a fresh start.

"While most of West Michigan refers to it simply as the Lowell showboat, we recognize that the name (Robert E. Lee) is offensive to many," Burns said in a prepared statement.

The city's move comes after a change.org petition was filed by Michigan State University student and former Lowell resident Brandon Lee. 

Lee indicated to us he wanted the name to come down before October 12th.  Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army, died on October 12, 1870.

"As it stands today, the Lowell Showboat is a Confederate monument and a testament to the subtle, but insidious, realities of racism and white privilege," Lee said.

The city owns the showboat and does not fly a confederate flag. 

Liz Baker at the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce said the Robert E. Lee name was put on the showboat, not as a celebration of the Confederate army, but to create a replica of the ships that used to sail up and down the Mississippi River.

Baker and Burns indicated they expect to name the new boat something else.

"We have received a grant from the State of Michigan to build a new Showboat," Burns wrote.  "For much of this year, a committee has been considering new names for the boat, which we expect to begin building next year."

Many people walking near the showboat today in Lowell during Lowell's Pink Arrow Community Day think it's a non-issue and say they know the ship as the Lowell showboat and not the "Robert E. Lee".

© 2017 WZZM-TV


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