A Southern school ditched its name to be called Barack Obama Elementary. Here's why.

It began with just one student in Jackson, Mississippi.

After having learned about a prominent Confederate leader and discussing his lasting legacy on the world, the student raised a good (if not painfully obvious) question to her mom at home: Why in the world would her school be named after a guy like that?


Yes, Jefferson Davis International Baccalaureate Elementary School is named after that Jefferson Davis — a president of the Confederacy in the mid-19th century.

Jefferson Davis. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

After the girl's mother brought the issue to the school's PTA, the conversation surrounding a name change began making waves among community members. More and more people — including the students at Davis Elementary — agreed: The school's name needed to go.

PTA president Janelle Jefferson told NBC News the young students were well aware of who the school — which has a student body that's 96% black — was honoring through its name and what it meant for kids like them: "They know who [Davis] was and what he stood for."

“Jefferson Davis, although infamous in his own right, would probably not be too happy about a diverse school promoting the education of the very individuals he fought to keep enslaved being named after him,” Jefferson expressed to the school board earlier this fall.

In September, the district's school board voted in favor of giving the PTA the authority to change the school's name.

So, as Jefferson explained to Mississippi Today, the PTA gave students, teachers, and community members two weeks to submit ideas on who the school should be named after before a public in-person vote on Oct. 5.

Before ballots were cast, kids from each classroom gave a presentation on who they believed should have the honor.

Barack Obama — notably, the students' favorite — won.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Starting next school year, Jefferson Davis International Baccalaureate Elementary will be Barack Obama International Baccalaureate Elementary.

“We really wanted to know what they thought,” Jefferson said of making sure to include the students' input. “They could relate to Barack Obama because of his achievements, because he looks like them.”

The school's name change comes amid a heated national debate over the place of Confederate monuments in public spaces.

In August, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, in protest of the college town's decision to remove a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee. The march unraveled into chaos, as one white supremacist reportedly ran over peaceful counter-protester Heather Heyer with his vehicle, killing her.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attack, a number of communities — including Baltimore and Tampa Bay, Florida — made moves to rid prominent Confederate monuments from public places. Although there's ample resistance from many people — including the president — that falsely argue removing these statues "erases history," advocates for change are finding where there's a will, there's a way.

It's a lesson students at Jefferson Davis (soon to be Barack Obama) International Baccalaureate Elementary School have learned well.

“The history you have to come to terms with is not the easiest thing to think about or talk about, especially with kids," Jefferson said. "But the positive came for me that our kids can see that there’s a process to it. They saw something wrong, and now they know they can change it.”

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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