JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Northside Coalition of Jacksonville and local students plan to host a news conference Friday morning ahead of the Jacksonville City Council and Duval County School Board joint meeting.
The event is designed to influence the school board to rename some public schools that have Confederate ties.
Ben Frazier of the Northside Coalition says local state and national organizations have now endorsed the local effort to change the names of schools in Duval County that honor confederates.
Frazier says the initiative is now endorsed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Rainbow Push Coalition.
The NCOJ, Take’Em Down Jax, 904ward, JCAC, the NAACP and dozens of other local groups are also involved in a new campaign that includes a massive multimedia campaign that will include billboards, video spots on social media, hundreds of yard signs and thousands of flyers.
“The School board should stop beating around the bush, " says Frazier. "They need to stop playing games and change the names! It's time for us to move forward; time to leave racial inequality behind and become one city/one Jacksonville.”
Earlier this month, a coalition of more than two dozen organizations held a “Stand Up For Change Community Rally” outside the DCPS headquarters on Prudential Drive.
In the past several months, students, parents and community organizations have pushed to rename schools in the city that bear the name of controversial historical figures, including Confederate leaders.
In addition to Robert E. Lee and Ribault, J.E.B. Stuart Middle, Jefferson Davis Middle, Joseph Finegan Elementary, Kirby-Smith Middle, and Stonewall Jackson Elementary have also come up in the name change debate. Those schools ended polling in March.
Since then, Duval County Public Schools announced the list of proposed names for both Jean Ribault High School and Robert E. Lee High School.
The proposed names for Ribault High School are:
- Northside High School
- Northwest High School
- Jean Ribault High School
The proposed names for Lee High School are:
- Avondale High School
- Riverside High School
- School No. 33
- Legacy High School
- Robert E. Lee High School
The original names for the schools are always listed on the ballot whenever there is a vote to change the name of a school, according to the district.
There are several groups who will be allowed to vote for a school's name, including:
- Current students
- Residents in the school's attendance zone
- PTA and SCA members
Community balloting is expected to start for both Lee and Ribault high schools in late April.
“Last year the Mayor said there are many issues that need to be addressed before healing begins in Jacksonville, we feel that one of those issues should be removing confederate monuments, names and symbols from public property,” said Frazier.