A predominantly Black elementary school in Jackson, Mississippi, is changing its name to honor Barack Obama, instead of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis.
Tuesday night the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees met and voted for the renaming of Davis IB Elementary School for the 2018-2019 year to Barack Obama Magnet IB.
“Jefferson Davis, although infamous in his own right, would probably not be too happy about a diverse school promoting the education of the very individuals he fought to keep enslaved being named after him,” said PTA President Janelle Jefferson.
Jefferson Davis, who was from Mississippi, served as the president of the Confederate states from 1861 to 1865. After the Civil War, Davis was charged with treason and served two years in a prison in Virginia.
Jefferson said the community wanted to rename the school after a person whose ideals and public stances aligned with what they wanted their children to believe. Community members are also working to get other Confederate-named Mississippi schools changed—like one named after James Zachariah George to simply George Elementary and another after Robert E. Lee to Lee Elementary.
According to Education Week, there are at least 19 schools in the nation named after Obama, more than any other president since Ronald Regan. More than 90 percent of students attending these schools are Black and Latino and the majority come from low-income families. The student population in the newly named school in Jackson is 98 percent Black.
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