Published: Thu, October 19, 2017
Research | By Francis Brooks

Predominantly black school named after Confederate general renamed to honour Barack Obama

Predominantly black school named after Confederate general renamed to honour Barack Obama

Imagine being a black student at a school named after a Confederate.

State rankings show the magnet school is the top academic performer of all elementary and middle schools in Mississippi.

On Tuesday evening, a predominately black MS elementary school announced that it would be changing its name from "Jefferson Davis" to "Barack Obama".

However, buildings and public institutions named for the heroes of the Confederacy and the Civil War (on the Southern side) have also received similar criticism - like the Davis IB Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi. The school board, facing an impending takeover by the state over audits that found safety problems and other issues at schools, had earlier authorized PTA groups at three schools named after Confederate leaders to pick new names if they wished, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

Janelle Jefferson, president of the school's Parent Teacher Association, said the new name will be more fitting for a school with a student population that is 98 percent black.

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The board's attorney, Dorian Turner, was unsure at the time if they had the legal power to change the schools' names. "We really wanted to know what they thought", she said.

Students from every class researched and gave presentations about their candidates at an assembly before the vote, Jefferson said. While the change won't go into effect until the 2018-2019 school year, however, Jefferson explained they had reached out to the student body to see what they thought about the name change, and whose name they would prefer. It had previously been named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education and consistently receives "A" ratings from the Mississippi Department of Education, Jefferson told McClatchy.

It's unknown how expensive the name change will be, she said.

"I wholeheartedly agree with the name", Board President Camille Simms said Tuesday night.

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