Jefferson Davis school to be renamed after former President Barack Obama
Jefferson Davis school to be renamed after former President Barack Obama

A public school in Mississippi named after Confederate leader Jefferson Davis will be renamed after former President Barack Obama next year.

A predominately black public school in Mississippi whose namesake is for Confederate President Jefferson Davis will be ripped of that moniker next year and replaced with that of another president whose character parents, teachers and students apparently have said is more fitting — Barack Obama.

Davis Magnet IB PTA President Janelle Jefferson announced at the Jackson School Board meeting Tuesday night that school stakeholders voted on Oct. 5 to rename the school Barack Obama Magnet IB.

“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, the school’s PTA president, told the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

Former President Barack Obama speaks in New York on Sept. 20. Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Former President Barack Obama speaks in New York on Sept. 20. Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

School stakeholders voted earlier this month to rename the school after former President Obama, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

Ninety-eight percent of the school’s students are black, the newspaper reported.

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Attendees were aware of the possibility that Tuesday’s board meeting could be the last for the district for a long time. The state Board of Education requested in September that Gov. Phil Bryant declare JPS in a state of emergency. That move would trigger a state takeover.

Bryant is expected to make a decision this week on whether to approve the board’s resolution.

His signature would result in the disbandment of the school board.

It was actually the possibility of being unable to meet again that spurred the board members at their Sept. 19 meeting to delegate their naming authority to PTA groups at three schools — Davis Magnet, George Elementary and Lee Elementary, all named after Confederate leaders.

At the time, the board’s attorney Dorian Turner advised that it was unclear whether the board had the authority to abdicate its responsibility.

On Tuesday, she confirmed, however, that the name change would be able to take place for the 2018-19 school year.

There are still logistics to work out, and Jefferson said the school and other partners, such as corporate sponsors, are expected to raise costs for the actual name change.

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Updates on renaming efforts for George Elementary and Lee Elementary in the same district were not immediately available.

The move comes as President Donald Trump has stoked the debate over the removal of Confederate statues across the country.

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