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Mississippi School Named for Confederate President to Be Renamed for Obama

By Corey Mitchell — October 18, 2017 1 min read

A Jackson, Miss., magnet school named for the president of the Confederacy will be renamed for Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the United States.

Davis International Baccalaureate Elementary, a school named for Jefferson Davis where 98 percent of students are African-American, will be rechristened to honor Obama. The magnet school is among the top-performing elementary and middle schools in Mississippi.

The school’s PTA president announced the planned name change, which would take place for the 2018-19 school year, at a school board meeting this week, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported.

With the name change in Jackson, schools named for Barack Obama or former First Lady Michelle Obama are now spread across 12 states; More than 90 percent of the students at those schools are black or Hispanic, according to an Education Week analysis.

The name change comes as leaders of the school district in Mississippi’s capital city, where more than 95 percent of students are African-American, are reconsidering Confederacy-linked names on three campuses.

Over the summer, unrest in Charlottesville, Va., and other cities sparked conversations in statehouses and school board meetings nationally, reigniting debate over whether to eliminate school names, symbols, and mascots tied to the Confederacy.

At least 139 public schools nationwide are named after Confederate leaders, mostly in the South; a majority of schools were built after 1951, more than 80 years after the Civil War ended, an Education Week analysis found. Fourteen of the schools are named for Davis; more than half are named for Robert E. Lee, who was the Confederacy’s top army commander.

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Photo Credit: President Barack Obama talks with middle-school students from Newark, N.J., during an “Hour of Code” event at the White House in 2014.--Jacquelyn Martin/AP-File

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.