Florida School Board Votes To Replace Confederate Names At Half A Dozen Schools – CBS Miami

JACKSONVILLE (CBSMiami / CNN) – After parishioners called for the change, a Florida school committee voted to replace the Confederate names of six schools.

After debating the issue for a year, the Duval County School Board in Jacksonville on Tuesday approved the district’s recommendations to remove and replace the names.

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The schools to be renamed are Joseph Finegan Elementary School, Stonewall Jackson Elementary School, JEB Stuart Middle School, Kirby-Smith Middle School, Jefferson Davis Middle School, and Robert E. Lee High School.

“The community’s involvement in this process has been unlike anything we have ever seen,” said school board chairwoman Elizabeth Andersen in a statement. “Support from organizations like the Jax Chamber, the Florida Times Union, and the NAACP shows how important this has been to our future as a community. Every message we send to our children must be about inclusiveness and belonging. Removing Confederate names from our schools will help achieve this. “

Thousands of stakeholders, including students and community members, took part in the vote to give their opinion on whether or not the names of their schools should be changed.

“I would like to thank everyone who took part in this process, and I want to thank the principals and district staff who have made this possible over the past few months,” said DCPS Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene in a previous statement. “We have had dozens of meetings, hours of public testimony, and thousands of votes.”

The schools have been renamed – Anchor Academy, Hidden Oaks Elementary School, Westside Middle School, Springfield Middle School, Charger Academy, and Riverside High School – effective August 3rd.

Board member Ashley Smith Juarez moved to change the names of three other schools – Jean Ribault Middle School, Jean Ribault High School and Andrew Jackson High School. Ribault and Jackson are “responsible for the systematic marginalization and killing of indigenous peoples,” said Juarez in her request.

“After dozens of meetings, hours of public testimony, and a massive stakeholder voting process, the recommendation to the board was to keep these three names and change the original six Confederate names,” said Duval County Public Schools spokeswoman Tracy Pierce. opposite CNN. “The board approved this recommendation and these names will not change.”

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) created the School Renaming Fund to cover the cost of renaming the six schools. This includes painting, changing uniforms, signs, and gym floors to match the schools’ new names.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have also offered to pay for the home sports and cheerleading uniforms for the schools that are renaming.

Despite the verdict, the decision was not made without contradictions.

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As the district began holding public meetings on whether to rename Robert E. Lee High School, the discussion at those meetings became heated.

Opponents of the renaming made controversial statements such as “Jesus himself was never against slavery” and “History cannot be broken off”.

George Floyd’s Influence

The death of George Floyd has resulted in controversial statues that have angered some residents for decades, if not longer – by protesters in some cases and city guides in others.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. During his arrest, Floyd was held by the knee of a Minneapolis police officer for more than nine minutes. His death sparked widespread protests in the United States calling for an end to police brutality against people of color.

After Floyd’s death, at least 168 Confederate symbols were removed or relocated from public places, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“I think the videotaping of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020 touched us all,” said board member Warren Jones, who supported the motion to change the Confederate names, during a board meeting. “For those of us who grew up here like me, I was grateful but very surprised when [Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry] removed the Confederate statue from what was then Hemming Park. These two events led me to ask this board of directors to … rename the six DCPS schools, which are named after Confederate officers. “

“I knew that as the Confederate memorials in Jacksonville were removed, the focus would be on the school board, and I felt we should be proactive in investigating the history of these schools, which are named after Confederate officers.” , he said.

Thousands of children in the United States attend schools named after Confederate leaders who fought to save slavery.

According to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), more than 240 schools in the United States are named in honor of Confederate leaders. About half of these schools serve students who are predominantly black or non-white.

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