NAACP Applauds Jackson Elementary name change
(KUTV)- The NAACP is applauding the name change of one of Salt Lake City’s oldest elementary schools.
The Salt Lake City School Board of Education voted Tuesday to change the name of Andrew Jackson Elementary to Mary W. Jackson Elementary School.
Jana Edward, the school’s principal said the unanimous decision came after lots of discussion with parents, teachers, and students.
“It was a very unifying experience. It was very democratic. I think it symbolized what our country can do when we come together to recognize what really happened in history,” Edward said.
In 1958, Mary Jackson became NASA’s first-ever black female engineer. Her struggles and successes were depicted in the book-turned-movie “Hidden Figures.”
Students at Jackson Elementary had the chance to study Mary Jackson throughout the school year.
“She was a really strong woman figure in her times because of sexism and racism,” Andrei Olivo, 10, said, “It makes me think we are going in the right direction.”
Concerns over President Andrew Jackson’s role in expanding slavery in the early 1800s prompted the name change. The United States 7th president was also known for his role in the Trail of Tears, what is now considered genocide of the American Indians.
Edward said the school wanted its name to reflect its students. 85 percent of students at Jackson Elementary are students of color.
“I think it shows that everybody can become whatever they want to be in life,” Kiana Phillips, a 6th grader at Jackson said.
“I think it’s the first step to much more, more equality and acceptance of brown people and black people and whatever orientation you are,” Olivo added.
The school plans to make the name change official with a special celebration. They plan to invite Mary Jackson’s family, the author of the book and makers of the movie.