This country’s founders are perhaps the most important people in the history of the United States. These men helped make this country what it is today. But in Wisconsin, a group of activists are working towards erasing them from history.
James Madison Memorial High School recently had a student come forward to claim that the name of the school offends her. She said in a statement that “The significance of this name in association with my school has a negative effect on memorials [sic] black students. The lack of representation I feel in this school makes me feel more than unsafe.” Now, she has started a petition that targets the changing the name of the historic high school, according to Weekly Standard.
At the time of this writing, the petition has received a staggering 1,500 signatures. The Cap Times reports that the student, Mya Berry, expressed her belief that this name change needs to be done so that a more inclusive environment will be created for African-American students.
Berry’s thought process seems to be that we need to look beyond the contributions of historical figures to this country and micro-analyze their behavior from a troubling time in history.
Ironically, the city where the school is located is Madison, which is also named after James Madison, a founding father, the fourth president, and the “Father of the US Constitution.”
Berry asked in the petition, “Do you think it’s truly appropriate to glorify a man that enslaved my ancestors?” She went on to say, “With the education disparity between black and white students being a huge concern in the Madison Metropolitan School District, and if you truly care about black students, you would change the name of Memorial High School.”
Unfortunately, changing the school’s name will not change that educational disparity. It is reliant on the individual to make the most of the opportunites they have. A name change won’t make a difference regarding test scores.
This trend is a truly unsettling one. Trying to erase these names from institutions, and getting rid of memorials, according to Jay Cost in The Federalist Papers, “…endangers the perpetuation of our Republic.” He also stated that understanding our government “…requires us to understand what these men thought and did. The decisions they made, and the assumptions behind them, reverberate through the generations, into the present day. Public memorials are a way to keep us mindful of their continued influence, so that as we endeavor to understand civil society, we remember to look to them.”
James Madison Memorial High School recently had a student come forward to claim that the name of the school offends her. Can we just erase history because it offends us?
The principal, Jay Affeldt, stated that he had no idea that Berry was treated unfairly, and is working with her to resolve these issues. He said he wants nothing more than to move the school forward in a “safe and healthy” way.
There is no news as to whether or not the name change movement will succeed. It is a big deal to change the name of a high school, especially one that represents an important person in our history.
The irony here is in the fact that without James Madison and the other foundering fathers, Berry wouldn’t have the freedom to create a petition.