JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Demonstrators gathered outside the Duval County School Board building Tuesday evening as the debate over whether to rename nine schools continues.
People chanted: “Stop playing games and change the names.” Of the groups in attendance were the Northside Coalition and Take ‘Em Down Jax.
HAPPENING RIGHT NOW: the Northside Coalition and other local activist groups are rallying in front of the Duval County Public Schools building to change the name of several schools in the area.— Brie Isom (@BrieIsomWJXT) March 30, 2021
The name change meetings are over so these rallies will happen every Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/QB0ead9KH5
The rally follows a number of meetings that were held to discuss potential name changes. One of the most closely watched schools is Robert E. Lee High School, where last week, more than 100 people came out to voice their opinions during its final meeting.
Nubian Roberts, who attended the demonstration Tuesday, said her son goes to Kirby Smith Middle School -- another school being considered for a name change. Roberts said she grew up in Germany.
“That was the issue for me when I moved here, that my kids would be going to schools named after Confederate soldiers,” she said.
Wells Todd, a member of Take ‘Em Down Jax, was also at the Tuesday demonstration.
“These schools are predominately African American, and it’s truly insulting to have the name of people who enslaved their ancestors on these schools,” Todd said.
Others have voiced opposition in previous meetings over changing the names. Some say the schools -- like Lee High -- have too much history to be renamed. A group of alumni formed a committee to oppose the renaming.
During a meeting of Jefferson Davis Middle School’s advisory board Tuesday evening, eight members of the board submitted votes. Four were in favor of renaming the school Westside Middle School, the other four were for calling it Charger Academy. Those names will be placed on ballots.
Rallies, like the one that took place Tuesday evening, are planned for the foreseeable future. A committee will finalize up to five name recommendations to include in the ballot procedures. According to DCPS’s “name change tracker,” that’s planned to be completed by April 14.
By May 12, DCPS says, ballots will be made available for constituents to vote on a preferred name. A day later, the schools will calculate the ballots and submit final counts.
DCPS says that by May 17, the schools will submit the results to the superintendent, who will make a recommendation and submit to the school board. The board can accept, reject or request another name be proposed for consideration.