Southern State Changes Name of School in Controversial Civil Rights Move

October 18, 2017Oct 18, 2017

A public elementary school in the state of Mississippi is now changing its name in a controversial display of civil rights. The school, originally named after the historic former president of the Confederacy, will now be named to honor the highly divisive former Democratic President Barack Obama. 

The reason? Davis Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary, named for Jefferson Davis, wants to get on board with the civil rights movement, and Barack Obama is the first black president of the United States. The new name of the school will be the Barack Obama Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary, beginning next school year.

The school's PTA president, Janelle Jefferson, made the official announcement on Tuesday night that the school will be changing their name. Apparently, the idea of changing the name was first raised by a student, according to NBC Neobs.

NBC News writes that the students know what Davis stood for. And knowing that their school is named after a symbol of slavery deeply bothers them. On the other hand, they know what Obama stands for. And they chose him, over anybody else, to be the new name of their school.

"This is the one person that the whole school supported. He was their number one choice," writes NBC News. 

In order to choose the new name of their school, the PTA asked the community to submit suggestions for the new name. Everybody began submitting their own suggestions, including parents, school, and staff. After two weeks of submitted recommendations, they voted using papers ballots on October 5. 

Students from every class researched and gave their own presentations on the figures of their choice. This helped to impact the vote. The decision to make Obama the name of the school was made the next day on October 6. And according to NBC, the decision meant a lot to the students at the school, who are 98% black.

According to Slate, the PTA announced that Obama "fully represents ideals and public stances consistent with what we want our children to believe about themselves."

Moreover, "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."

Debates over Confederate monuments in Mississippi came back into the national spotlight in August after an occurrence of racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. After the planned removal of a General Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, a crowd of protesters and counter-protesters emerged. Tensions between the two crowds rose, culminating in a white nationalist violently running his car into the crowd of counter-protesters. One woman died and many were injured.

Some in the state were calling for Confederate monuments to be removed. This is when the Jackson Public School Board decided that it could possibly rename its schools named after confederate leaders.

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