Is it time to reconsider our school names?

“This Board (Humboldt Neighborhood Association) is opposed, as a matter of policy, to retaining the names of schools and other public institutions named for former slave owners and others who did not respect equal opportunity for all.”

This is a resolution passed by Humboldt Neighborhood Association (HNA). Clifford Walker dropped in on our January Board meeting to discuss Eliot adopting a similar resolution. The HNA adopted this resolution with a unanimous vote after a year of discussion. Clifford got us talking at the January board meeting about this topic with the hope that we might eventually adopt a similar resolution. The most immediate (to Eliot) change that might come from this being widely adopted might be to rename Jefferson High School.

I grew up in Virginia, and went to a Thomas Jefferson High School, and the fact that he was a slave trader was certainly not highlighted to me. “Thomas Jefferson and slavery”—it is such a common subject that it has its own Wikipedia article. I certainly do not want to be in the way of taking down signs of oppression, but at the same time, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and a former President of the United States seems like a fair person to have a school named after.

From a pragmatic view, it also crossed my mind that Jefferson is one of the worst high schools in the system in terms of test scores, according to one metric, and the two worst by some metrics: Jefferson and Madison were both named after former slave traders. Perhaps renaming some of our worst-performing schools coupled with some changes at the schools wouldn’t have a terrible effect on the school performance.

The Eliot Board decided that we would bring up this subject again at the April General Membership meeting. Drop by and weigh in

The Eliot General Membership meeting is April 14th at 7pm in the Legacy Emanuel Medical Office Building at 501 N Graham – West conference room. This is across the driveway from the Atrium.

Clifford can be reached at More information at


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