PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Calvin Coolidge Middle School and Roosevelt Magnet School are no more.

On Monday, Peoria Public Schools administrators held a ribbon-cutting to rename Calvin Coolidge, Harold B. Dawson Jr. Middle School.

Dawson, who passed away in 2019, was a pastor and heavily involved in education and the community. His widow and children attended the ceremony.

PPS Superintendent Dr. Sharon Kherat said it’s wonderful to rename the school after a community hero.

“It’s much more personal for sure, and definitely someone they can look up to. Someone who really believed in education, did a lot for education, did a lot for Peoria Public Schools,” said Kherat.

Later in the day, Roosevelt Magnet School was renamed Elise Ford Allen Academy. Allen was the first Black woman in Illinois to found, edit, and publish a newspaper.

Allen was also the first woman and Black person to run for Mayor in Peoria. Although she did not win, she placed fifth among eight male candidates.

New Peoria Public School Board President, Martha Ross, said students will now acknowledge her history every day they set foot into the school.

“The children need to know that their origin was not based in slavery, that they were business owners, kings, queens, and so forth,” said Ross.

Allen’s belief then and today is that inequality can be fought through education. 

The first day of school is August 3.