Robert E. Lee elementary school to narrow new name choices to 3 finalists

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 8:42 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - It’s a move happening across the country, Confederate names dropped from schools. Here in Magnolia State, the Jackson Public School District is also working on rebranding its schools with new names.

They say they want names that reflect the community.

“Lee is named after Robert E. Lee. He was a Confederate general during the Civil War who did not want slavery to end,” said Principal Cynthia Veals.

“With recent social injustices happening across the nation and the community, right now would be a good time to change the name to someone who represents what the students stood for.”

But the school’s principal says that’s about to change.

“With recent social injustices happening across the nation and the community, right now would be a good time to change the name to someone who represent what the students stood for.”

This is not the first time a Confederate name has been dropped from a JPS school. A school honoring Jefferson Davis was renamed Barack Obama Magnet Elementary School back in 2017.

“If they can connect with the building itself and the process, that just gives them motivation,” said teacher Phyllis Sanders.

Some people say stripping Confederate names from schools is removing history. Teachers like Phyllis Sanders disagree.

“The name of the school is important to the community and children that go there, so the school and the name should represent who there are,” Sanders.

As part of the rebranding process for Lee Elementary, JPS created a committee of parents, students teachers, community and school board members to help come up with a name.

Semifinalists being considered:

  • Civil Rights and NAACP leader Medgar Evers
  • Former Mississippi Democratic State Senator Alice Harden
  • Former Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba (The late)
  • Civil Rights activist Jessie Mosley
  • Civil Rights activists Aaron and Ollye Shirley
  • Poet and novelist Margaret Walker-Alexander

“We wanted to make sure the nominations had ties to the local community, those persons have made positive strives in education, and they were relevant to our students,” said Veals.

The list of names will soon be narrowed to three.

In October, the students here will learn about the top three and be ready to vote on a new name in November.

“This is the beginning of their history, them making history. They can say, ‘I was a part of this event.’ and they can go on and be proud of that,” said Sanders.

The Jackson Public School District and Lee Elementary invite you to participate participation in this non-binding poll to cast your vote for your favorite namesake here.

You have until 11:59 this evening.

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