What’s in a name? Plenty. A school in Mississippi is chucking the name of the Confederacy’s only president, Jefferson Davis. Guess who’s getting the new moniker? President Barack Obama. Sweet!
Davis International Baccalaureate Elementary School in Jackson was named ages ago for Jefferson Davis. What prompted the change? According to a report by the Associated Press, Jed Oppenheim, a school board member, said people have been asking for years why three schools in a majority African-American district are still named for Confederate figures. In mid-September, the board authorized the PTA at each of the three schools to set new names. The change from Davis to Obama is the only one approved so far.
The new name will be used starting in the next academic year. The school made the name change a teachable moment. According to the Associated Press, students in each class, from K-5th grade, did research and presented it at a school assembly. Fourth and fifth graders oversaw the election, with students, teachers and staff casting paper ballots. Parents weren’t left out. They were permitted to vote at school or by absentee ballot.
“The students had overwhelming support for President Obama,” PTA president Janelle Jefferson told The Associated Press. “We wanted to be very inclusive and transparent in the process to be fair, to make sure everybody felt like they had a voice,” Jefferson told the Associated Press.
According to the Associated Press, the PTA will do “some very aggressive fundraising campaigns” to pay for new signs, stationery and other items necessary for the name change. The name change is significant on several levels, including the fact that many of the students were born during president Obama’s eight years in office.