New Jersey Elementary School Ditches Thomas Jefferson From Name Because He Owned Slaves

New Jersey Elementary School Ditches Thomas Jefferson From Name Because He Owned Slaves

A New Jersey elementary school has changed its name following a reported student-led campaign to scrap Thomas Jefferson due to his affiliation with slavery.

Per Fox News, Thomas Jefferson Elementary in South Orange will now be known as Delia Bolden Elementary. That name was picked from a list of options that included other historical figures and some options that didn’t reference people at all.

The publication noted that Delia Owens was the first black woman to graduate high school in the area.

Other options included “Ruth Bader Ginsberg Elementary School” and “New Legacy Elementary School,” but ultimately, Owens won out.

“I want to make that point that Thomas Jefferson owned over 600 slaves,” board member Qawi Telesford said at a June meeting to discuss the possibility of a name change. 

“He freed two while he was alive and seven after he died, which basically means I have a 1.5% chance of being free in Thomas Jefferson’s world. So, I am not thankful to him. I am thankful to the people who made sure that I could actually be free and be on the board with you today.”

School Superintendent Ronald Taylor said in a statement that he was proud of the students for pushing for the name swap, which was also supported by faculty and staff. 

“Seeing the work that [the students] did, I think, exceeded the expectations of all of us who participated in that conversation, when that was the final outcome, to really engage our students and make this a real-life civics lesson with really strong connections to governance,” he said.

This isn’t the first time the Founding Father’s name was struck from a school. In 2021, the Falls Church school board in Virginia voted unanimously to change the names of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and George Mason High School, The Daily Wire previously reported. They also argued that Jefferson’s legacy was tainted by his slave-owning past. 

Last fall, a 200-year-old statue of Jefferson was removed from New York’s City Council Chamber.

“This Administration owes it to the more than five million New Yorkers of color our members – past, present and future – represent, to resolve that the individuals memorialized within the confines of our People’s House be reflective not only of the best traditions of our city’s history and its diversity but unquestionable character,” the city’s council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus said in a statement at the time, per The Daily Wire.  

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