An elementary school in metro Atlanta could soon have something in common with the former first lady: its name.
The Clayton County Board of Education has voted to rename South Clayton Elementary School to Michelle Obama STEM Elementary School.
Next, the county will have to wait for Obama to approve.
“I just felt like there aren’t many places named after women,” board member Ophelia Burroughs told CNN. She originally suggested naming the school after Obama.
“We are trying to push forward in our society, because we have been left behind for so long.”
The elementary school is under construction, and is expected to open next July in the city of Jonesboro.
At the board meeting last week, Obama received seven votes. The other two were in favor of renaming the school after civil rights activist, Rep. John Lewis – who died earlier this year.
“He is a true hero of the civil rights movement, and it would have been so fitting at this time,” board member Judy Johnson, who did not vote in favor of Obama, told CNN. “But we had many, many votes for Michelle Obama. It is very fitting to have a school named after her here.”
Obama’s ties to the county
Obama has ties to Clayton County through a great-great-great grandmother. The New York Times connected Obama’s ancestry to Melvania Shields in 2009. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2018 that Shields was enslaved on a farm in Rex, Georgia, a tiny hamlet in northeast Clayton, within county lines. A memorial monument for Shields stands in Rex.
“If Michelle Obama says no, then you have John Lewis as a backup, or someone else,” Burroughs said.
The Clayton County elementary school will not be the first to be named after Obama in Georgia. There is a Barack and Michelle Obama Elementary School in Atlanta.