On tuesday evening, Jackson, Mississippi Parent Teacher Association President Janelle Jefferson, of the Jefferson Davis Magnet IB public school, announced the school will be dropping the name of the former Confederate president in favor of the name of a president that the students, teachers, and parents have found more fitting -- Barack Obama.
The Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees unanimously approved a measure last September allowing the PTA and the community to pick a new name for the school starting next year.
However, one Board counsel member, Dorian Turner, had previously expressed concern for the legality of the move, stating that it could be a “grey area” in giving up the board's authority to question the name change.
Jed Oppenheim, the Board member who initially suggested the motion, countered, saying he had found no issue:
I think the community and parents and guardians of our schools are perfectly capable of coming up with appropriate names that honor members of our community or simply just are place names (until an appropriate name is decided).
Mississippi Today noted that the current board policy requires schools be named “for persons of good character and prominence who have made outstanding contributions to the school system,” and a “facility named to honor a person shall not be renamed except for compelling reasons.”
So why did the community settle on Barack Obama? The PTA President had this to say about the decision:
They could relate to Barack Obama because of his achievements, because he looks like them.
JPS enrollment is currently 96 percent black.