A Wisconsin high school student has launched a petition to remove the name of the father of the U.S. Constitution from her school – and it’s gaining quite a few signatures.
The name of James Madison Memorial High School must be changed because the Founding Father owned slaves, according to the student.
“Hello, my name is Mya Berry and my school is named after a slave owner,” Mya Berry wrote on Change.org. “James Madison, the 4th president of the United States was an owner of over 100 black slaves. The significance of this name in association with my school has a negative effect on Memorial’s black students.”
Berry’s petition to Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, Wis., had received more than 1,500 signatures as of June 5.
James Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution because he drafted the first 10 amendments to the document. His work includes the First Amendment, which grants Berry the right of free speech to demand the name change.
Berry blames Madison’s name for what she sees as an unsafe environment of racism at her school, The Capital Times reported.
“The lack of representation I feel in this school makes me feel more than unsafe,” Berry wrote on Change.org “I do not feel supported by the majority of staff at Memorial, especially considering the fact that I’ve gotten called ‘n word’ multiple times, along with having an individual threaten me by telling me they would lynch me.”
“So my thought to leave you with is: with all the injustice I and others face in James Madison Memorial High School, do you truly think it’s appropriate to glorify a man that enslaved my ancestors?” Berry wrote.
James Madison was one of 12 presidents who owned slaves.
There is a growing movement to remove the names and statues of slaveholders from public places. The City of New Orleans removed statues of Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and General P.G.T. Beauregard from public squares in May.
The city of Madison, Wis., also is named for the fourth president.
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