Voting is underway at several Jacksonville schools as students, alumni and community members decide whether to remove the names of the prominent Confederate figures and men associated with mistreatment of Native Americans.
The schools that are voting this week are Robert E. Lee High School, Andrew Jackson High School, Jean Ribault High School, and Jean Ribault Middle School.
The stakeholders will first vote on whether they want the name to change or to stay the same. Then, if they voted to change the name, they will vote on four possible new names that don’t reference any person, living or dead.
The vote follows weeks of contentious community meetings at the schools, where predominantly older, white alumni fought to keep the names while younger students and alumni, many of them people of color, fought to change them.
Lee High senior, Amiyah Jacobs, 17, spoke at a recent meeting. “The student body is made up of mostly people of color, yet this building stands as a monument to a racist, sexist Confederate military leader who owned slaves?” she said. “If students really matter, change the name!”
Some people who support keeping the names have argued that the alumni with positive memories of their time at the school ought to be valued; others have said the money it would take to change the names would be better spent elsewhere.
The Duval County school board has reserved the right to keep or change the school names, regardless of which side wins the vote.
Voting is taking place in-person at all four schools from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. April 26 to April 30, then again at the same times May 3 to May 7.
Contact Sydney Boles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.