BLACK VOICES

Mississippi School To Swap Confederate Leader's Name For Barack Obama's

Nearly all the elementary school's students are black. It's currently named for Jefferson Davis.

10/18/2017 20:21 EDT | Updated 10/20/2017 15:32 EDT

A Mississippi school announced plans to change its name, which honors Confederate President Jefferson Davis, to something that better reflects its student body.

Davis Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary School in Jackson will be renamed for President Barack Obama starting next year, Parent Teacher Association President Janelle Jefferson announced Tuesday.

Jefferson told the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees that the community voted in favor of the name change, according Mississippi Today. This school year, the student population of Jackson Public Schools is 98 percent black. 

“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,” Jefferson told the board during Tuesday’s public meeting.

Davis was president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, from 1861 to 1865. He was arrested in 1865, and the U.S. government charged him with treason. After being imprisoned for two years, he was released in 1867.

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The school had been named for Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederate States of America.

Last month, the board granted the PTA and the Jackson community the power to rename three schools named after Confederate leaders: Davis Magnet; George Elementary, named after Confederate Col. James Zachariah George; and Lee Elementary, named after Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The Davis Magnet’s PTA gave students, parents and the local community two weeks to submit candidates for the school’s new name. The school board requires facilities to be named after people “of good character and prominence” who have contributed to improving the school in a local or national way.

Students researched and presented their candidates during a school assembly, according to NBC News. The community later voted to honor Obama as the school’s namesake on Oct. 6.

Jefferson told the school board that the community chose 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,” according to the Jackson-based newspaper The Carion-Ledger.

To that, the board’s president, Camille Simms, replied: “I wholeheartedly agree with the name.”

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Davis Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary in Jackson, Mississippi, will be named for former President Barack Obama next year.
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