Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis Elementary School Renamed In Honor Of Obama

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The Jackson, Mississippi public school district board of education voted to change the name of one of its magnet elementary schools — named for the President of the Confederacy during the civil war — in honor of former President Barack Obama.

The name change for the Jefferson Davis Elementary School, which has a student population that is 98 percent black, was announced Tuesday at the district school board meeting, according to the Clarion-Ledger. The school will now be called the Barack Obama Magnet IB.

The PTA wanted to rename the building to “reflect a person who fully represents ideals and public stances consistent with what we want our children to believe about themselves,” PTA President Janelle Jefferson said at the meeting, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

There are two other elementary schools in the district that are named after Confederate leaders, but the school district did not immediately respond to TPM’s requests for comment on the status of those schools’ names.

The Obama name change comes as schools, churches and municipalities across the country drop Confederacy-affiliated labels from their buildings and remove Confederate statues from public spaces.

Last month, the episcopal church that Confederate commander Robert E. Lee attended when he was president of Washington and Lee College in Lexington, Virginia even voted to change its name from the Robert E. Lee Memorial Church back to its original title, the Grace Episcopal Church. 

The violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last month intensified the debate over what place Confederate memorials have in society.

At the Charlottesville rally, a group of white nationalists gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Lee. The rally turned violent and ended with a man affiliated with white supremacists allegedly driving his car through a crowd of counter-protesters and killing one person. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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