Lowell Showboat to remove “Robert E. Lee” name

LOWELL, Mich. -- The City of Lowell says they will soon take steps to remove the name of their popular showboat.

Lowell City Manager Mike Burns tells FOX 17 that they will be taking steps this week to remove the "Robert E. Lee" name on the boat.  "As you know, we have received a grant from the State of Michigan to build a new Showboat. For much of this year, a committee has been considering new names for the boat, which we expect to begin building next year."

“I think we need to move beyond the hate and all the violence and just change it for the good of everybody.” Said Sue Eskew, who's in favor of change.

Although some believe it's part of Lowell history and the name should stay.

“I think they should keep the name Robert E. Lee," says Glynn Harding from Lowell. "Because it’s a historic name and it’s been on that boat since 1979.”

The Lowell Showboat was built in 1932. In 1935 a new boat, the "Robert E. Lee" was constructed in it's place. The boat had to be re-built in 1978 after a storm heavily damaged it. The Lowell High School class of 1999 again restored the ship and later held their graduation on the boat.

This decision coming on the heels of fierce cultural contention following racially-motivated rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Mike Burns said Thursday, "while most of West Michigan refers to it simply as the Lowell Showboat, we recognize that the name is offensive to many. We will be taking steps this week to remove the name on the boat."