The South Orange-Maplewood School District’s community members opted not to keep one of its primary schools named after Thomas Jefferson because they felt he was a “enslaver,” thus the children came up with a number of names for the school.
In the end, they decided to name the school after Delia Bolden, a Columbia High School alumnus who graduated in 1912.
Some Maplewood primary school kids will begin attending the renamed institution on September 8.
Bolden was Columbia High School’s first Black graduate in 1912.
The district must update the signs and make other adjustments to reflect the new name before the start of classes on September 8 in accordance with a resolution adopted by the Board of Education in late June.
The vote for women wouldn’t be available for another eight years after Bolden graduated from CHS in 1912. Additionally, segregation kept Black and White citizens apart until the 1960s in many facets of daily life.
Bolden authored a “great article” for the 1912 yearbook, which was published and delivered at her graduating, according to the district. It was chosen by peers to be included in the yearbook.
Bolden observes in the article, which is available online, “Today, the public is often confronted with the issue of black people. The leaders of both races are giving it considerable thought. The black man is making a lot of effort to decide this issue for himself and to earn a respectable position in his adoptive country. But he faces several pointless impediments on his way.”
The Jefferson Elementary School will now be known as the Delia Bolden Elementary School, after approval from the South Orange and Maplewood Board of Education on June 29.
By June 30, 2023, the district said it would also think about ways to honor the building’s former name, Jefferson Elementary School, “as well as the reasons for the name change on school grounds.”
The Board of Education is pleased with the new name for Delia Bolden Elementary School, according to SOMSD Board President Thair Joshua. It is appropriate to start the new legacy at the school by selecting Delia Bolden, the first African American woman to graduate from Columbia High School in 1912.
More than 7,200 children are served by the School District of South Orange and Maplewood’s ten schools, which include one high school, one early childhood center, six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one middle school: Columbia High School.
The neighborhood and its schools are renowned for their ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. However, the Black Parents’ Workshop recently forced the district to settle a lawsuit alleging that the district discriminated against pupils of race. Beginning last year, the district had to make adjustments.
The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, is still honored through a number of schools in New Jersey.
Views on slavery held by Thomas Jefferson may be found here or here.
Several Jefferson-named schools in Virginia, where he was born, discussed changing their names in 2020.