Community and PPS School Board discuss new names for Thomas Jefferson Primary School

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Residents and Peoria Public School Board of Education members discussed new names for Thomas Jefferson Primary School at the Administration Building at 6 p.m. Wednesday night.

Thomas Jefferson is one of six Peoria Public Schools to be renamed in the coming years, a decision the Board of Education made in September 2020.

President of the Peoria Public Schools Board of Education, Doug Shaw, said the decision was made after examining schools’ names and the histories of those American figures that have ties to racism, slavery, and abuse.

“In today’s environment, I just don’t believe that is honorable,” Shaw said.

After hearing support from community members in previous months and at the meeting, Shaw agreed that the school could be named after one of the suggested individuals — Peoria native and Civil Rights pioneer, Reverend C.T. Vivian.

“I’ll just give a few bullet points,” Shaw said. “Joined and led efforts to end segregation locally through Peoria’s interracial fellowship, worked with Martin Luther King’s organization fighting for the education and rights of all people…created a division program helping, in 1966, helping 700 students attend college.”

Another board member in attendance, Dan Walther, said renaming Thomas Jefferson Primary is estimated to cost around $20,000.

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