The mayor of Jackson, Mississippi says it’s time the city disassociates itself from the former U.S. president it was named for.
In a statement,Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumbasaid he wants to reclaim the city’s name by divorcing it from that of former President Andrew Jackson. The capital city, which has a population that’s more than 80% percent Black, was named for the late statesman and slaveholder in 1821.
“When I took office, I found out the name Jackson means ‘God has shown favor,’ ” Lumumba said in a statement posted online. “So, we want to reclaim the name of our city for that meaning and divorce it from the legacy of a brutal owner of enslaved people who was instrumental in initiating the Trail of Tears against indigenous people.”
The ask comes one day after the Jackson City Council voted toremove the bronze statue honoring Jacksonfrom City Hall, the Associated Press reported. Council members approved the move Tuesday in a 5-1 vote to relocate the statue and “put in a a less prominent spot,” according to the outlet.
Councilman Kenneth Stokes spearheaded efforts to have the figure removed and heralded Tuesday’s decision, AP reported.
Lumumba said that while removing the statue is a first step, African-Americans shouldn’t be constantly reminded of those “those who profited off of the blood, sweat, and despair of our ancestors or see them immortalized as honorable.”
Jackson served as thenation’s seventh presidentfrom 1829 until 1837, according to History.com. He led the new Democratic party and was a supporter of state’s rights. As a slave owner, he opposed policies that would abolish the practice.
“Jackson ownedas many as 161 enslaved people, buying and selling them, using their labor to build his fortune and even bringing them to the White House to work for him,” History.com reported.
The former president is perhaps best known for his role in the forced relocation of nearly 50,000 Native Americans from their ancestral lands. Their trek to the western U.S., known as The Trail of Tears, resulted in thousands of deaths.
For Lumumba, reclaiming the city’s name is a step in the right direction.
“Black people have reclaimed and repurposed names given to our families by slaveowners for centuries,” the mayor said in a statement. “This is no different.”