JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In observance of the 67-year anniversary of the unanimous Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Southern Poverty Law Center raised a new billboard in support of the Jacksonville community and grassroots activists, the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, who have long been working to change the names of public schools honoring white supremacists. The billboard location is I-10 West of Roosevelt Blvd on the left-hand side.
The following statement is from SPLC Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks:
“Raising this billboard to commemorate the anniversary of the landmark Board v. Brown decision is an intentional act of resistance, as we stand in solidarity with voters who support school names that best represent the Jacksonville community today.
“When the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional in 1954, the frenzy to name schools after racist Confederate leaders began across the South. Case in point: four of the six Jacksonville schools currently being considered for name changes were named during the 1960s.
“All students should be able to hold a sense of pride in their school and not be forced to attend institutions named in honor of individuals who fought to keep Black children enslaved and uneducated. The placement and display of Confederate symbols on and around public school property, in parks and other places children frequent is especially damaging to Black children. Exposing them to anything that perpetuates the idea of white superiority and Black inferiority serves to continuously dehumanize Black people, and must end now.
“Duval County could join 33 public schools across the U.S. that have already committed to removing the names of racist Confederate leaders from their buildings by the start of the 2021-22 school year. Since May 2020, sixteen schools have been renamed, two of which are located in Florida.*
“Jacksonville is positioned to be on the right side of history by removing school names that were chosen during an era of white resistance to school integration. On June 1, the Duval County School Board and Superintendent must do the right thing by honoring the community’s wishes to place the needs and sensibilities of today’s students first.”
*Ten Confederate symbols were removed from Florida’s public spaces in 2020.
For more information about the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville’s advocacy efforts, please visit northsidecoalitionofjacksonville.com.