A Mississippi school which was named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis will have its name changed to Barack Obama IB Elementary School from next year.
This happened after the parents at the mostly-black school voted for the switch.
In August, Davis Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary School told it would take into consideration the inquiries from parents and community groups to change the name of the school.
The next month, the Jackson Public School District joined the brawl about the issue of public buildings named after Confederate leaders by announcing it would provide schools and their surrounding communities the ability to change the name any of Jackson’s schools named for parts of Confederate history.
“The school community wanted to rename the campus to reflect a person who fully represents ideals and public stances consistent with what we want our children to believe about themselves,” Davis Elementary School PTA President Janelle Jefferson told when she declared the choice to the school board this week.
“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,” she said. The school’s population is approximately 97%black.
Jefferson stated that the students were very conscious of who Davis was and what he symbolized.
“They know who he was and what he stood for,” she told NBC News. “This has a great impact on them, because (Obama) is who they chose out of anybody else they could. This is the person that the whole school supported. He was their number one choice.”
“When you realize who this school is named for, I think that it’s a positive thing to be a part of this movement,” Jefferson replied. “We want what’s best for our kids. We want our kids to identify with persons who they can relate to.”
The former Confederate president may not be alone in being erased by Jackson’s schools. Schools named after Robert E. Lee and James Zachariah George may also have their names removed and changed. George was a Confederate officer and next, a U.S. senator who advocated for the development the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and encouraged the creation of the Department of Agriculture.
One commentator told names should change because the times change too.
“Every generation has a right to choose how it represents itself,” said Jake McGraw, public policy coordinator the University of Mississippi’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. “Having a school where there was input from parents, teachers and students — along with the school board — it seems like a model for how these decisions should be approached across the country.”
Changing the name might be the smallest of all the controversies challenging Jackson’s schools, The Washington Post reported.
In September, the Mississippi Board of Education asked Gov. Phil Bryant to have the state take over the district because it is in “extreme emergency,” according to The Associated Press.
The state board announced some seniors graduate without meeting the school’s qualifications, teachers are giving inefficient education and the school buildings aren’t safe.