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Make way, Jefferson Davis: A Mississippi school is being renamed after Barack Obama


The “A-rated” magnet school <u>Davis International Baccalaureate Elementary School</u> -- named after former Confederate president Jefferson Davis -- is being renamed after former President Barack Obama.

Obama Elementary
Obama's magnet school

News about this change came on Oct. 17 when the school’s PTA president, Janelle Jefferson, announced the conclusions of a vote after nearly three weeks of deliberation. Janelle 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.”

Janelle Jefferson, PTA president
Davis International Baccalaureate Elementary School PTA president, Janelle Jefferson

After all, the school -- a top-performing magnet school in Jackson, Mississippi -- is made up of about 96 percent African-American students.

While Mississippi remains one of the poorest states in the U.S., a great many changes are coming to the state in terms of demographic shifts. <u>The Atlantic reports that this shift</u>, especially in the increased clout of the black vote, will pose a formidable challenge to a Republican-controlled Mississippi. The state already has the highest number of black residents in the entire country, making up nearly 38 percent of the state’s total population, <u>according to the U.S. census</u>.

“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, PTA president

Southwest of the Ross Barnett Reservoir, into which the Pearl River spills, lies the capital city, Jackson — a once-important stronghold of the former Confederate south. In 1861, under the guidance of James Zachariah George, Mississippi became the second state, after South Carolina, to declare independence from the U.S.

Jefferson Davis Statue
president of the Confederat states of America

Jefferson Davis, a great military strategist, born into the affluence of the south’s slave-owning rule, he would later become the president of the Confederate States of America.

While the south ultimately lost to the north and Davis was charged with treason, he became a confederate icon. Now, he's caught in the swirling controversy of a rather contested legacy.

After the violence in Charlottesville, the battle over confederate iconography in public has continued. In the south, more than 130 public schools are named after Confederate leaders, while 21 others are named after former President Obama and/or former first lady Michelle Obama, according to <u>Mother Jones</u>.

First lady Michelle Obama speaks

The highly anticipated name change to “Barack Obama Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary” will occur in the next academic school year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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