A student is circulating a petition to remove former President James Madison’s name from a high school named in his honor, arguing the former slaveholder’s name makes African American students “feel more than unsafe.”
Mya Berry, a senior at James Madison High School in Madison, Wisconsin, is arguing the fact that President James Madison inherited slaves, along with his Montpelier plantation in Orange, Virginia, from his father, means her school – and her hometown, which is also named after the nation’s fourth president – are hostile to African American students.
“The significance of this name in association with my school has a negative effect on memorials black students. The lack of representation I feel in this school makes me feel more than unsafe,” Berry stated in a petition on change.org. “I do not feel supported by the majority of staff at memorial, especially considering the fact that I’ve gotten called n word multiple times, along with having an individual threaten me by telling me they would lynch me.”
The petition, which has received over 1500 signatures since being posted last week, prompted one supporter to justify signing it “because f**k white supremacy.”
“With all the injustice I and others face in James Madison Memorial High School, do you truly think it’s appropriate to glorify a man that enslaved my ancestors,” the petition continued.
Berry told the Capital Times she never reported the incidents in which she was allegedly threatened because she did not feel comfortable doing so.
“At the time, I didn’t feel safe. I didn’t know who to reach out to. Now that I’m a senior and I’ve become more comfortable speaking out, I’ve told more people about it,” she said. “I feel like faculty overhear injustice and they know it’s wrong. Some of them don’t speak up, and that adds to the unsafe environment.”
The petition in Madison, Wisconsin is just another step in the systematic purge of anything associated with the Founding Fathers, under the guise of their slave-holding history, from American society.
The Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee voted unanimously to strip the names of former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from the title of its annual Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey fundraising dinner, joining similar efforts in the states of Georgia, Iowa, and Missouri.
CNN host Ashleigh Banfield suggested memorial of Thomas Jefferson in Washington, D.C. should be taken down because the former president owned slaves.
“Jefferson owned slaves….and there’s a monument to him in the capital of the United States, no one ever asks for that to come down – is it equal,” she asked.
The head of San Francisco’s school board argued in favor of removing former President George Washington’s name from George Washington High School in the city’s Richmond neighborhood.
“I don’t think the goal is to condemn people who died a long time ago,” board president Matt Haney said. “The question is whether there might be a more appropriate, meaningful name.”
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