A Mississippi School Named For A Confederate Icon Will Now Be Named After Obama

"[Students] could relate to Barack Obama because of his achievements, because he looks like them."

With Confederate monuments and institutions named after Confederate leaders being called into question, one Mississippi elementary school with a moniker that has strong ties to the Civil War has decided to change its name and honor former president Barack Obama instead.

The school, which is currently known as Davis Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary School (after Confederate President Jefferson Davis), will adopt its new name — Barack Obama Magnet IB Elementary School — next year. According to HuffPost, the name change was formally announced on October 17 by Parent Teacher Association President Janelle Jefferson after the community sent in a variety of suggestions and voted in favor of naming the school after the nation's first Black president. 

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Mississippi Today reports the school, which is located in the capital city of Jackson, boasts a student population that is roughly 96 percent Black. "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 explained during a meeting with the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees earlier this week, according to the publication.

The renaming comes one month after the board approved a policy that gave the PTA and community the option to rename Jefferson Davis and two other elementary schools named for Confederate leaders. Per the Washington Post, the effort to find a new moniker for Jefferson Elementary began after a student had a conversation with her mom about Jefferson Davis, and things took off from there. "It consisted of the student recognizing that our school is named for a person who didn't agree that they should thrive educationally — or any way in life — or really be considered a human being," Janelle Jefferson explained to the Post.

Of the final choice, Janelle Jefferson tells Mississippi Today, "[Students] could relate to Barack Obama because of his achievements, because he looks like them." The Mississippi school will join at least 21 others across the country named "Obama," including two named for former first lady Michelle Obama, notes The Washington Post.

While there's no word yet on whether Obama has any plans to make a trip to the latest school that will soon bear his namesake, the former president certainly remains dedicated to children's education as well as motivating young people across the world to enact change. The proud father of a Harvard freshman recently welcomed some Washington D.C. students back to school with a surprise visit, and he is also expected to be on hand for The Obama Foundation's inaugural global leadership summit that's scheduled to take place in Chicago later this fall.

Cover image via The White House / Pete Souza.

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