The student body at Jefferson Davis International Baccalaureate Elementary School is 98 percent Black and both students and parents agreed it was time to get rid of the name of the man who fought a war to keep their ancestors enslaved.
"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," Janelle Jefferson, president of the school’s parent-teacher association, told the Jackson School Board on Tuesday.
School stakeholders voted to rename the school Barack Obama Magnet IB. Jefferson explained that the community wanted the school's name "to reflect a person who fully represents ideals and public stances consistent with what we want our children to believe about themselves." Board President Camille Simms said she "wholeheartedly agrees" with the move. The name change will go into effect for the 2018-19 school year.
According to The Washington Post, at least 21 schools in America will be named after either Barack or Michelle Obama by the next school year.
The name change is part of a larger national debate about U.S. communities honoring Confederate leaders. The national dialogue began after Dylann Roof murdered nine Black churchgoers in June 2015 during a racially-motivated shooting spree. The debate intensified when a white nationalist protest over the removal of a confederate monument in Charlottesville turned deadly this August.
The controversy is largely concentrated in the South, which is home to most of America's Confederate monuments. But there has also been discussion of renaming a dining hall at Oregon State University that's named for Confederate soldier Benjamin Arnold and a California intersection called Confederate Corners.