Six schools named in honor of Confederate leaders will have their names changed in Jacksonville, Florida. School board members voted 5-2 to end this travesty; a mix of students, school alumni, community members and politicians participated in the balloting process to offer input on whether or not they wanted the names of their schools changed.
“Keeping the names of Confederate generals in our children’s schools is a slap in the face to every African American that attends these schools,” Wells Todd of Take’Em Down Jax said. “Those that oppose the names being changed are acknowledging their support for the Confederacy and all that it stood for.”
The debate for renaming the schools remained highly contentious throughout the process. When the NAACP Jacksonville Branch and 904WARD held a rally, they were met with counter-protesters who waved Confederate flags and sang the Confederate song, “I Wish I Was in Dixie” in the Duval Schools headquarters parking lot. One counter-protester stated, “Jesus himself was never against slavery” and “You can’t cancel history.” The district had to arrange three separate protest areas in the headquarters parking lot: one for pro-renaming, one for anti-renaming and one for anti-maskers who don’t want to disagree with the district’s optional mask policy for next school year.
According to reports, the estimated cost of renaming six schools is $1.2 million. That includes around $287,000 per secondary school and around $32,000 for elementary schools. The Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) has launched the School Renaming Fund to cover the costs of renaming the six schools. The district said renaming costs would come from a mix of general funding, private donations, capital funding and internal accounts.
“The level of community engagement in this process was unlike anything we have ever experienced,” school board Chairwoman Elizabeth Andersen said in a statement. “Every message we send our children needs to be about inclusivity and belonging. Removing Confederate names from our schools helps accomplish that.
Why We Need To Know:
There seems to be an awakening finally happening in this country. Some are starting to recognize that it is highly offensive for children to walk through doors with names of those who fought to oppress Black people. According to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, at least 168 Confederate symbols have been removed or relocated from public places.
Note: There is still a lot of work to be done. More than 240 schools across the U.S. are named in honor of Confederate leaders, according to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). Approximately half of those schools serve students that are predominantly Black or non-White.