PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Humboldt Neighborhood Association wants to see Jefferson High School in North Portland renamed, but that belief doesn’t account for everyone.
“While I was attending the school, that was never talked about,” said Rosie Willis, a 1974 graduate of Jefferson High School. “Why is it now that they’re bringing it up?
The school is named for the 3rd American president Thomas Jefferson, and the neighborhood association maintains his legacy as a slave owner should not be celebrated.
The discussion on the proposed name change was held until 7:45 p.m. Monday at the North Portland Library.
Some people in the neighborhood association, like Jefferson graduate Clifford Walker, think it’s time for a change.
“That’s what I hope,” he said.
Walker thinks the tradition — a school represented by Jefferson — needs to be challenged.
“And by having that name in 2018 associated with that school just across the street, what message does that send in your opinion?” he said. “What, (that) we’re not sensitive to people who are offended by those kinds images?
“Enough is enough.”
Change won’t be easy, however, according to Willis, who’s adamant that she’s “a proud Demo.”
“It’s going to be a fight,” she said, “it’s going to be a battle.”
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president, was a leading figure in America’s early development. During the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), Jefferson served in the Virginia legislature and the Continental Congress and was governor of Virginia. He later served as U.S. minister to France and U.S. secretary of state, and was vice president under John Adams (1735-1826). Jefferson, who thought the national government should have a limited role in citizens’ lives, was elected president in 1800. During his two terms in office (1801-1809), the U.S. purchased the Louisiana Territory and Lewis and Clark explored the vast new acquisition. Although Jefferson promoted individual liberty, he was also a slaveowner. After leaving office, he retired to his Virginia plantation, Monticello, and helped found the University of Virginia.