“It’s time to stop idolizing these Confederate soldiers. Ending racism includes the removal of racist figures, statues, and idols across the south,” the petition reads. “We propose this petition to rebrand Lee County, Florida, in an effort to continue the battle to eradicate racism in the United States.”
A Florida-based organization known as Artsemble Underground launched the petition, arguing that Bruce Lee managed to bridge the gap between the East and West as one of the most influential martial artist of all time and a pop culture icon. The change will also help minimize costs and focus more on changing the narrative behind the name, which would still be Lee County.
“We are not trying to change our past, we are trying to improve our future, and what better way than [to] use an inspiring, positive influential figure as our namesake,” the petition reads.
“Robert E. Lee never even set foot in our county. He has nothing to do with this place,” Brian Weaver, who is the owner of Artsemble Underground, said, per NBC News.
Retired Confederate Capt. Francis Hendry pushed to name the county after Lee in 1887, despite protests at the time objecting to the change. “Let them protest and be _____,” Hendry wrote in his 1908 memoir. “I will leave the dash to be filled in by my dear friend, Judge Cranford. Yes, we are proud of the name of our county and its seat of government.”
The petition is looking to get 1,000 signatures. As of this writing, it has just over 500. Lee Country, of which Fort Myers is the county seat, has a population of over 700,000.