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New Jersey district removes Thomas Jefferson from elementary school name over slavery

( Fox )

An elementary school in New Jersey is changing its name after a successful year-long campaign to end its association with Thomas Jefferson due to his slave ownership.

Jefferson Elementary School in South Orange, New Jersey, is being renamed to Delia Bolden Elementary School to honor the first Black woman to graduate high school in the area, according to NJ Advance Media.

The name was selected by the student body from a list of choices. Many of the proposed names were of individuals related to the local area while others had no reference to a person living or dead.

Alternative choices included "Ruth Bader Ginsberg Elementary School" and "New Legacy Elementary School."

The school claims the initiative was proposed and led by students. However, faculty members have been vocal in their support and assistance to the cause.

"I want to make that point that Thomas Jefferson owned over 600 slaves," board member Qawi Telesford said at a June meeting on the issue. "He freed two while he was alive and seven after he died, which basically means I have a 1.5% chance of being free in Thomas Jefferson’s world. So, I am not thankful to him. I am thankful to the people who made sure that I could actually be free and be on the board with you today."

The school's superintendent applauded the decision.

"Seeing the work that (the students) did, I think, exceeded the expectations of all of us who participated in that conversation, when that was the final outcome, to really engage our students and make this a real-life civics lesson with really strong connections to governance," Superintendent Ronald Taylor said.

Renaming schools named in honor of historical figures thought to be malicious or insufficiently moral has become a popular trend in the United States.

Last year, the Waukegan Board of Education in Chicago proposed renaming Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Daniel Webster Middle School after it was decided the historical figures either owned slaves or supported slavery.

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