Sean Tully of Baltimore recently wrote to Prince George’s County NACCP, asking that the James Ryder Randall school should be changed.
Here is his letter and the response he got from Alvin Thornton, Chair, Board of Education for Prince George’s County.
Dear Prince George’s County NAACP,
As you know, Maryland may be repealing the pro-Confederate song “Maryland, My Maryland” as our official state song in 2021. The author of that song was James Ryder Randall. I think you should urge the Prince George’s County School Board to rename the Clinton, MD, elementary school that is named after him. I think it is a tragedy that any child, especially a Black child, should have to attend a school that honors a pro-Confederate man. I cannot think of any other deeds done by Randall that could justify keeping his name on the school. His only claim to fame is that he was from Maryland and that he wrote a poem pleading for Maryland to leave the Union to join the Confederacy. There is no way that should be honored in Maryland.
Alvin Thornton responded to Tully’s letter
Thank you for sharing with Board Member David Murray and me your message to the Prince George’s County NAACP requesting that the name of the James Ryder Randall school be changed. As you referenced, there is active consideration of the need for changes in the nomenclature of public buildings and spaces, including public schools. The Board of Education is sensitive to this issue and has recently approved names for schools that are more aligned with the democratic ideals of our nation, state and county reflecting diversity and pluralism.
As a member of the Board of Education in 1994, I helped lead the effort to change the name of the Roger Taney Middle School to the Thurgood Marshall School with a companion required curriculum. That experience is a model on which we can rely. I am confident that the Board of Education and our Chief Executive Officer will assign high priority to this issue during the 2020-21 school year working with affected schools and the communities from which their students come. I am pleased to see that the County Council has indicated its intention to reconsider the nomenclature of county buildings and determine where adjustments may be required.
We will look forward to your continued involvement with this important public policy issue.
Alvin Thornton, Ph.D.