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Utah school changes name to honor NASA engineer instead of Andrew Jackson

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The Salt Lake City school board has voted to change the name of the city’s oldest elementary school over an outcry about its namesake, former President Andrew Jackson.

The school board voted unanimously earlier this week to change the name of Andrew Jackson Elementary School to Mary Jackson Elementary School, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

The school’s name now honors the first black female NASA engineer whose story was featured in the film “Hidden Figures.”

It is also the first Utah school to be named after a woman.

The Tribune reported that while changing the school’s name had been under consideration for years, the board did not move forward until it was determined that 73 percent of parents, alumni and other community members supported a change.

“Some of my colleagues thought it was beyond offensive to have to go to a school named [for Andrew] Jackson,” principal Jana Edward told the Tribune.

{mosads}The school prides itself on its diverse population, according to the Tribune, which noted that 85 percent of students are children of color.

As outcry over statues honoring Confederate soldiers continues to build, many have highlighted Andrew Jackson’s treatment of Native Americans, particularly the “Trail of Tears” relocation that forced thousands of Native American families from their homes. Jackson also owned more than 100 slaves during his lifetime.

“It kind of surprised me when I learned that he was a really bad person,” one student said. “I didn’t know they would name a school after someone like that.”

President Trump has spoken highly of Andrew Jackson, pointing to his populist election, and hung a picture of the former president in the Oval Office at the start of his administration.

Trump also criticized an Obama-era Treasury Department move to replace Jackson on the $20 bill with abolitionist Harriet Tubman, calling it “pure political correctness.”

Tags Andrew Jackson Donald Trump

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