Jackson to Clemente

Orange County (Fla.) board removes Confederate general's name from middle school

Sept. 24, 2020
Stonewall Jackson Middle will now be named for Hall of Fame baseball player Roberto Clemente.

The Orange County (Fla.) school board has removed the name of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson from one of its middle schools.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the school has been renamed Roberto Clemente Middle School in honor of the Hall of Fame baseball player and Puerto Rican native who died in a 1972 plane crash.

Hispanic leaders rallied behind the name change and viewed Clemente as a fitting selection for a school that now serves a student population that is 75% Hispanic and 14% percent Black.

The middle school opened 55 years ago as a whites-only school and was only campus in Central Florida still named for a Confederate general.

Clemente was a star outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. and a U.S. Marine. He died when a plane crashed en route to deliver relief supplies to Nicaragua after an earthquake.

Board members, community leaders and parents who pushed for the change say they are happy the school would no longer be named for Jackson, a Virginian who died in that state in 1863 after a Civil War battle.

After the vote, Superintendent Barbara Jenkins directed facility staff to “put the name on the school ASAP.”

It will cost the Orange County district about $20,000 to change signs on the school, replace the logo in the gym floor, order new sports uniforms and get rid of other items that now bear the Jackson name.

In a survey completed by nearly 4,000 parents, students, staff and community members, about 70% chose Roberto Clemente Middle as the preferred name for the school

In 2017, the Orange County board renamed Robert E. Lee Middle School as College Park Middle School.

The process to rename Stonewall Jackson Middle took longer, in part because the school advisory council recommended the school board lop off “Stonewall” but still call the school Jackson Middle.

The school board rejected that plan, saying that wouldn’t amount to a new name.

The school will have a new name, but it still sits on Stonewall Jackson Road. Community activists say they are pushing for that to be changed, too.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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