Jefferson Middle School could be the next Madison school to be renamed, according to the Madison School Board‘s agenda for its regular February meeting.
District spokesman Tim LeMonds said Jenkins’ request is based on community feedback on the matter, and Jenkins will request the creation of an ad hoc committee to begin exploring the potential name change by council policy.
Thomas Jefferson Middle School was named after America’s third president, who owned slaves.
The request comes after the board voted unanimously to rename James Madison Memorial High School to Vel Phillips Memorial High School, in honor of the first black woman to graduate from University of Wisconsin Law School, winning a seat on the Milwaukee City Council, become a judge in Wisconsin, and get elected to statewide office. She died in 2018 at the age of 95.
A committee of community members tasked with renaming the secondary school presented its suggestion to the council’s operations task force in November after a five-month deliberation process. The committee narrowed a list of 26 names to four and ultimately settled on Phillips in a 10-1 vote in October.
The high school’s name change is the latest of several decisions spurred by black students pushing for racial reckoning at Madison. Memorial alumna Mya Berry called on the board to rename the school in August 2020 because James Madison, the fourth U.S. president and city namesake, was a slave owner.
In December 2020, an ad hoc Madison School Board committee, formed to rename Falk Elementary School, voted unanimously to recommend that the building be named after Milele Chikasa Anana, a prominent civil rights activist and the first Afro -American to be elected to a public school board in Wisconsin.
Falk’s name change committee was formed in August 2020 after a group of school staff, parents and community members submitted a letter in July of that year requesting that the Southwest Side Elementary School be renamed, after a 2018 discovery by UW-Madison researchers that Philip Falk, the building’s namesake and former Madison school superintendent, was among a group of students from the KKK.
This story will be updated.
Get our local educational coverage straight to your inbox.