Effort to Change School Name Gaining Traction

Filed under: Featured News,South Philadelphia,South Philly |

The Andrew Jackson School, which sits at 1213 S 12th St in south Philadelphia has come under scrutiny because of its eponym. Photo by Eldon Graham

By Eldon Graham

The Andrew Jackson School is one of the top-rated schools in South Philadelphia, but some believe the school’s moniker is a blemish upon it and the city.

Brian Kall, operations and & management director at Drexel University College of Medicine, started the petition to change the name of the Jackson school.

Kall, who has lived in South Philadelphia for more than a decade, explained just what motivated the petition. “I’ve lived a few blocks away from the school for 11 years and never knew the full name; everyone just says ‘Jackson. ’ Like, ‘Hey, will your kid be going to Jackson?’” he recalled. “To find out it is named after Andrew Jackson, someone with absolutely no ties to Philadelphia, and who in fact has a pretty horrible history in his treatment of Native Americans and Africans living in slavery, was shocking. One night I realized that if I wanted to see it changed, that I should do something about instead of waiting for someone else.”

Kall listed a few reasons with his petition on why he believes Jackson is an abhorrent choice to name a school for children.

In December 1817, Jackson led a campaign in Georgia against the Seminole and Creek Indians. Jackson was charged with preventing Spanish Florida from becoming a refuge for runaway slaves, after Spain promised freedom to fugitive slaves.

In 1830, as president, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which relocated most members of the Native American tribes in the South to Indian Territory. The relocation process dispossessed countless Native Americans and resulted in widespread death and sickness.

He vehemently opposed the rising trend of abolitionism. Jackson was a slave owner, using up to 300 slaves to harvest cotton on his plantation.

The petition has amassed over three-quarters of its goal of 1,000 signatures and currently has been signed by 797 people. Kall started the petition approximately eight months ago and has recently gained some traction to push it further to its goal. He is galvanized by the progress that it has made so far.

“Starting the petition has been an opportunity to meet new people, to find new areas of common ground with those I hadn’t known that well, and proof that I wasn’t the only one shocked. Change.org sets the goal and we quickly surpassed the initial goal numbers and now we’re getting close to the new goal of 1,000,” said Kall.

Kall hope to change the name of the school to someone with a Philadelphia background who is worth of such an honor. Fanny Jackson was brought to his attention and he believes that she is the most viable candidate.

“One of the commenters on the petition brought Fanny Jackson to my attention and was the inspiration to editing the petition to include her name. She has a great history and connection to Philadelphia and will be someone that will truly inspire the kids at the school. Other schools in the US, including some named after Andrew Jackson, have changed their names and I believe it’s time for Philadelphia to follow suit.”

A lot of background and information was gathered by Kall, as to why her story is so significant and her name should be chosen to replace Andrew Jackson.

Fanny Jackson Coppin was born into slavery in Washington, D.C. Her freedom was purchased by her aunt, who sent her to boarding school. After her education, Fanny Jackson moved to Philadelphia where she accepted a teaching position at the Institute for Colored Youth, then located on the 700 block of Lombard Street. The school was founded by the Society of Friends in 1837.

In 1869, after the departure of the longtime principal, Fanny Jackson Coppin was named principal. Alongside her colleague Octavius V. Catto, a historical Philadelphian himself, they led the boys’ and girls’ schools respectively.

Fanny Jackson established the “Industrial Department” for students of color to learn trade work which was not taught to youth of color in Philadelphia before this. Classes included plastering, carpentry, shoemaking, printing, tailoring as well as dressmaking, typewriting, stenography and cooking classes.

To let your opinion be known, visit https://www.change.org/p/philadelphia-school-district-superintendant-dr-william-hite-change-the-name-of-andrew-jackson-school-in-south-philadelphia



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