Statistics released by the Huffington Post, have revealed that there are still many African-American students attending schools that pay homage to those who fought to keep their ancestors enslaved during the American Civil War.
Following last month’s racially charged shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white supremacist- Dylann Roof, killed nine African-Americans, there have been renewed calls to limit the display of the Confederate flag and rename public spaces named for Confederate leaders.
The post said that at least 189 public schools across the US have names that memorialize Confederate soldiers, leaders or politicians. This statistical analysis was taken from the National Center for Education Statistics, from the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.
For the sake of clarity, see below a map which depicts the locations of schools named after Confederate leaders. The statistics also looked at the demographics of the over 118,000 students in these schools, which includes a disproportionately high number of nonwhite students. More than half of the students who attend schools named after Confederate leaders are black or Hispanic. To be more specific, roughly 22 percent of students who attend these schools are black and 29 percent are Hispanic.
From the statistics, according to the post, it is therefore not surprising that community leaders across the US are advocating against public spaces that celebrate the legacy of Confederate leaders. A San Diego assembly woman has said that her local school board should change the name of the Robert E. Lee Elementary School. Former San Antonio mayor and United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development-Julian Castro, has also said that the Robert E. Lee High School in a San Antonio district, should be changed.
“There are other more appropriated individuals to honor, and spotlight as role models,” Castro wrote on his Facebook page last week.
We must also add that, in recent years, a number of school boards and districts have taken steps to eliminate racist symbols from their campuses and change the names of buildings named after racist historical figures. In 2014, a school board in Jacksonville, Florida, voted to change the name of Nathan B. Forrest High, which had been named after a Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader. A petition that promoted the name change received over 160,000 signatures.
“I don’t want my daughter, or any student, going to a school named under those circumstances. This is a bad look for Florida with so much racial division in our state; renaming Forrest High would be a step toward healing. Now is the time to right a historical wrong. African American Jacksonville students shouldn’t have to attend a high school named for someone who slaughtered and terrorized their ancestors one more school year,” said the petition, written by a local parent.
However, there are some pockets of resistance against the name change. Members of a school board in Virginia have spoken out against changing the name of a district school named after Robert E. Lee.
Ron Ramsey, Staunton School Board chairman in Virginia, was quoted as saying “When you have so many years of history associated with a school you went to, when you change the name they feel like they lose that. I can see how it could make it harder to trace school history and athletics when they have a new name.”
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