#Changethename! is a group dedicated to changing the name of Patrick Henry High School, a school that was named after a prominent slave owner! This group of 255 students and 20 core members, six staff, and two school volunteers was formed in September by Henry teachers Enitan Yarbrough and Jocelyn Lovick in response to student concerns about the negative impact on the school community of honoring a Virginia slave owner who spoke so eloquently for life and liberty, but only for privileged, moneyed, white males.
#Changethename! is currently raising awareness of this issue in the community and generating solutions to possible name and funding issues. Community input in this process is vital! Contact Enitan.Yarbrough@mpls.k12.mn.us or 612-668-1937 to share your time and energy, and voice your concerns (for or against) with this group and their effort to change the name.
Student core members addressed the following questions about their involvement.
When and how did you learn that your school was named after a slave owner?
“In my sophomore year I found out Patrick Henry was a slave owner. I soon realized that his name was disrespectful on the deepest of levels.” S R Grade 12
“I learned last year in my freshman year after my peer Semaj was interviewed for an article on this subject in a local community newspaper.” J A Grade 10
“A Student Government meeting freshman year.” S M Grade 12
Why did you decide to mobilize with others to change the name of your school?
“Simply because I felt like a fool and I felt like it was wrong of me to let my peers walk around ignorant to the counter-narrative. I refuse to walk around foolish or let my peers do the same.” N A Grade 11.
“Because if my friends don’t feel comfortable coming here, neither do I.” J T Grade 11
“I couldn’t graduate from a school that I wasn’t proud of.” S M Grade 12
In the past have you ever been a member of a similar group or organization to enact social change? Was that group successful?
“Appetite for Change in North Minneapolis, a non-profit that uses food as a tool for building health, wealth and social change in North Minneapolis.” Sa M Grade 12
“I have participated in Minneapolis Youth Congress and everything we fought for took time, but we were eventually successful.” J A Grade 10
“I was a part of the second Superintendent Search Committee and we were successful and happy with the end results.” S M Grade 12
Have you met anyone yet who has a differing viewpoint of changing the name of your school? If so, what was their argument for keeping the current name?
“Yes, their arguments are always, “Why change the name now? It’s been Patrick Henry for so long. ‘What’s changing the name going to do for us?’” Sa M Grade 12
“Patrick Henry also did good things. It’s going to cost too much money. It doesn’t relate to them.” J A Grade 10
“Surprisingly there are many. The most common argument is not having enough money for everything. It’s ridiculous that the Board of Education is making us raise the money for a change, however, if raising money is what we have to do then so be it.” N A Grade 11
“Too expensive.” S M Grade 12
How would you respond to those who argue that public institutional names and monuments should remain in place for those who supported and constructed the structure of slavery and or fought for the Confederacy?
“I tell them it is never too late to make a change. The backbone of a school is its name and its future.” K N Grade 12
“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, yet the disrespect of keeping these horrendous monuments that praise my oppressors is blasphemous.” S M Grade 12
“I stand firm on my facts and speak the truth with no hesitation! Youth are the truth and when we all are on one accord we can’t fail nor be denied.” Sa M Grade 12
“That was then and this is now. Students today see this as disrespectful and we will not stand for it.” S M Grade 12
“Make them feel guilty about pushing an oppressor on those who just want a school that welcomes them.” J T Grade 11
Do you have a personal favorite name that you would like to have for your school?
“Stokely Carmichael, a prominent Black Panther who fought for justice.” S M Grade 12
“Camden High, or honor the Lakota tribe that used to live in this area.” J A Grade 10
“Personally I like the sound of Unity High. I’d like for it to be known that this cause is for the benefit of all people and that we are strongest together.” N A Grade 11
“Frida Kahlo High or just Kahlo High School.” J T Grade 11
“Camden High.” S M and Sa M Grade 12
Do you have any personal or national/international heroes who inspire and motivate you to go about changing the world for the better?
“Malcolm X is my favorite hero because he embraced the brotherhood of all men.” S M Grade 12
“Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person in history to be awarded the Noble Peace Prize for her fight against wrongdoing.” K N Grade 12
“Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, Kathleen Cleaver, Camden High.” Sa M Grade 12
“Assata Shakur, Malcolm X and Native Americans.” J A Grade 10
“Bob Marley.” J T Grade 11
“Maya Angelou, Nekima Levy Pounds.” S M Grade 12