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Corvallis School Board to vote on changing 3 school names
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Corvallis School Board to vote on changing 3 school names

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The question of racist school names will be examined by the Corvallis School Board when it convenes Thursday evening for a special meeting.

Proposed by board member Vincent Adams, the resolution would have the names of three elementary schools "immediately removed, and interim designations assigned by the district pending renaming." The district would then establish a process for reviewing all other school names and accept input for new names.

Under particular review, the district proposal says, are three of six elementary schools named after U.S. presidents: Wilson Elementary, Hoover Elementary and Jefferson Elementary.

President Woodrow Wilson was responsible for the segregation of federal agencies, was sympathetic toward the Ku Klux Klan (even choosing D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation"as the first movie to be screened publicly at the White House) and described Black people as an “ignorant and inferior race” not to be trusted in politics.

President Herbert Hoover, despite appointing some Black people to federal positions, was known for removing Black Republicans from their positions in Southern states as part of an agenda to attract more white Democrats to the Republican party. Hoover also pushed heavily against Mexican immigration to the U.S., even deporting many birthright citizens.

Much of President Thomas Jefferson's legacy, even at his home-turned-museum in Virginia, hinges on him being a well-known supporter of slavery. Despite having drafted the Declaration of Independence, in which all men are proclaimed free, he owned at least 600 human beings during his lifetime.

The school board cited the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man, by a police officer as a motivation for the review of racist legacies in the district.

"Many buildings in the Corvallis School District are named for U.S. presidents, some of whom held views that are corrosive to the values of the district and are not appropriate for celebration on facilities for the education of children," the proposal says.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and can be viewed on the "Corvallis School District" YouTube channel.

Reporter Nia Tariq can be reached at nia.tariq@lee.net.

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