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Hundreds of students, staff, and community members on Wednesday celebrated the renaming of Lanier Middle School — an event that featured student performances, special guests, and the unveiling of a new school emblem and song.
Family and friends of the late Mayor Bob Lanier were on hand for the event, along with HISD Board of Education Trustee Jolanda Jones and HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza.
“Today is our day to officially embrace Bob Lanier as our new school name,” Lanier Principal Felicia Adams said. “Our school is now named after a significant leader in the Houston community. We stand unified and honored that the Lanier family accepted our proposal to name our wonderful school after Mayor Bob.”
The HISD Board of Education voted earlier this year to change the names of eight schools so they would better reflect the values and diversity of the district. A committee of Lanier stakeholders recommended the school name be changed from Sidney Lanier Middle School to Bob Lanier Middle School. The change was approved by trustees earlier this year.
“I knew Bob Lanier. He was a courageous leader. He included people who were not in the mainstream,” Trustee Jolanda Jones said, noting that Lanier appointed Houston’s first black chief of police. “I didn’t pick the name, but I think it was a great choice.”
A dedicated public servant who believed in the power of education, Lanier served six years as mayor of Houston, from 1992 to 1998. He spearheaded some of the region’s most important infrastructure projects, including NRG Stadium, Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center, and a complex highway system. At the same time, he rebuilt long-forgotten neighborhoods, providing sidewalks, better roads, and streetlights in places that had gone generations without.
Lanier was born in 1925 in Baytown, Texas. After graduating from the University of New Mexico, Lanier served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, an experience he later said instilled in him the discipline that prepared him for the life that followed. He graduated at the top of his class from the University of Texas School of Law and went on to be a successful attorney, banker, and real estate developer.
Affectionately known as MayorBob, Lanier was ahead of many in identifying the multicultural aspect of the city that so many Houstonians appreciate and value today. He called it “the multicultural fabric of our society,” and in the 1990s he spoke passionately about its strength and our need to nourish it.
“My husband believed in the pursuit of excellence and in the power of education, and that is what this school represents,” said wife Elyse Lanier. “If Bob were here, he would tell you that, and he would be so honored by all of this.”