Davis Magnet IB Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi, a predominantly black school, will become Barack Obama IB Elementary School at the start of the 2018-2019 school year. School stakeholders voted on the name change earlier this month.
Enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year at Davis Magnet IB Elementary School shows that 98% of students are black, and JPS’s enrollment overall is 97% black.
“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 Magnet IB PTA President, Janelle Jackson, said in a statement. “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 told the board.
The discussion of the name change began in August when School Board members asked parents and community members to begin discussing renaming the school, which is currently named after a Confederate leader, Jefferson Davis.
In September, the power of name-changing was given to the schools and local communities by the JPS School Board. Recommendations for a new name were collected from students, staff, and community supporters. Students had the opportunity to present each class’ top choice with their reasoning. Barack Obama Magnet IB Elementary School was chosen after voting on the top three names.
George Elementary and Lee Elementary are two other schools in the Jackson district that are also named after Confederate leaders. Currently, updates on whether those schools are in the process of changing their names are not available.
Many schools and communities across the country are opening discussions on what to do with monuments and names based on Confederate leaders. This is not an unknown issue — With Facebook having 1.97 billion monthly active users around the world, anyone who uses social media should be aware by now that communities throughout the country are struggling to decide what to do about monuments honoring the Confederacy. This school would be the first in Mississippi named in honor of Obama.