In the face of many confederate symbols being criticized for the racist messages that they pose—from Charleston to Charlottesville, the debate to whether the nation should keep this part of their history, even a racist one, is heating up. That is why it is shocking that a school in the most surprising state, Mississippi, is removing their name of Jefferson Davis Elementary, named after the president of the Confederacy, and is replacing it with the 44th and first black president, Barak Obama.
The change was initiated by the parents of the students who went to the school, who are 98% African-American. They convinced the PTA to allow a name change, with suggestions from the community. The top three choices were voted for on October 5th, with Barak Obama winning overwhelmingly. The PTA President Janelle Jefferson said, “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…It was a very positive experience and it was wonderful to see the children grasping this idea that they can be change agents.” Plans have been made to hold a ceremony at the start of the next school year to officially change the name and the retired president will be invited.
This is very helpful to the debate against these Confederate symbols. Jefferson Davis Elementary has been ranked as one as one of Mississippi’s top elementary schools, and two years ago it achieved the highest reading proficiency in the state, showing how an intelligent school understands how these symbols can seem racist. This name change has caused other schools in the district named after Robert E. Lee and James Zachariah George to consider changing their name as well.