US school to be named after Barack Obama, name of Confederate leader to be dropped

Former US President Barack Obama at an event in New York City on Sept 20, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A public school in Mississippi is to drop the name of the Civil War leader of the pro-slavery South and be named after the first black US president, Barack Obama, the local newspaper reported.

The move in Jackson, Mississippi, comes amid a national debate over a campaign to remove statues and other monuments to generals and leaders of the 1861-1865 Confederacy.

The Clarion-Ledger said Davis International Baccalaureate Elementary School, whose enrollment is 98 per cent black, will be renamed Barack Obama Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary School next year.

A statue of Confederate States president Jefferson Davis at the US Capitol in Washington. PHOTO: AFP

Janelle Jefferson, head of the parent-teacher association, informed the Jackson school board of the plan to rename the school at a meeting on Tuesday evening, the newspaper said.

"Jefferson Davis, although infamous in his own right, would probably not be too happy about a diverse school promoting the education of the very individuals he fought to keep enslaved being named after him," Jefferson told the board.

She said the school community had voted to rename the school "to reflect a person who fully represents ideals and public stances consistent with what we want our children to believe about themselves."

According to the Southern Poverty Law Centre, a civil rights advocacy group, more than 100 public schools in the United States - primarily in the South - are named for Confederate icons.

A protest against the removal of a Confederate statue turned deadly in August when an avowed white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman.

White nationalists and neo-Nazis had staged a rally in the city to oppose the planned removal from a public park of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, the Civil War commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

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