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Data: The Schools Named After Confederate Figures

By Corey Mitchell — June 17, 2020 | Updated: November 17, 2022 3 min read
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This page will be updated when new information becomes available.

The name that graces a school building can carry a lot of weight. Many schools take pride in their name, devoting time and effort to chronicle the history of their name on their websites. School names can be found on athletic fields, school supplies, bumper stickers, and clothing. Changing a name can be costly, complex, and controversial. In Alabama and South Carolina, state laws restrict the renaming of public schools named for Confederate leaders and the removal of statues erected in their honor.

Over the years, campaigns to change the names of schools named after Confederate figures have waxed and waned, usually surging after high-profile incidents such as the June 2015 shooting of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., the death and injuries at a 2017 white supremacist rally and counter-protest in Charlottesville, Va., and the killing of George Floyd in May of 2020. These were critical junctures in the ongoing public debate around memorializing those who waged war to maintain slavery.

Approximately 340 schools in 20 states currently bear the names of Confederate figures, according to Education Week’s research. Since June 29, 2020, at least 53 Confederate-named schools have changed names, 29 of which were located in Texas or Virginia. Two of these 53 schools are in Alabama—their name changes face complications due to the state’s memorial preservation law.

In addition, our database shows:

  • Almost all the schools are in states that were part of the Confederacy that fought to preserve the enslavement of Black people in the U.S. Civil War.
  • Most of the Confederate-named schools are concentrated in six states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
  • While some of the schools are named after well-known leaders such as Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, most of the schools in our database are named after less-known Confederates.
  • Many of the schools in our database take their name from the city, town, or county they are in, which were named for Confederate figures.

Sources: Education Week Research Center and Education Week Library, 2018; news reporting, school and district websites; National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019-20 (for private schools), and 2020-21 (for public schools); Wikipedia; The Congressional Naming Commission’s DoD Inventory (2022); Southern Poverty Law Center data, 2016, 2019, 2021, and 2022.

Data Notes

  • Schools that were named after an entity/person that had Confederate ties were included. This includes individuals who served in the Confederate armed forces or in positions of leadership in the Confederate government. For example, schools named after the county or city they are in were included if that city or county was named after a Confederate figure. This list of schools includes those that are in the process of changing their name, but have not decided on a new name. School names that have changed since June 2020 are italicized.
  • Renamed dates in the database indicate when a new name was officially approved.
  • Education Week updates this page with additional schools and school name changes as we become aware of them.
  • On Feb. 17, 2022 the public school directory and enrollment characteristics were updated to use the most recent, 2020-21 school year NCES data.
  • On June 7, 2022, the private school directory and enrollment characteristics were updated with 2019-20 NCES data.

Contact Information

For media or research inquiries about this table and data or to contribute information, contact library@educationweek.org.

How to Cite This Data

Data: The Schools Named After Confederate Figures (2020, June 17). Education Week. Retrieved Month Day, Year from https://www.edweek.org/leadership/data-the-schools-named-after-confederate-figures/2020/06

Related

Research: Holly Peele and Maya Riser-Kositsky
Demographic Analysis: Alex Harwin
Data Visualization: Emma Patti Harris
Web Production: Hyon-Young Kim

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