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Minneapolis' Patrick Henry High School to be renamed

It was a debate that started five years ago and now the name-change process is officially approved to begin.
Patrick Henry High

MINNEAPOLIS — In north Minneapolis, Patrick Henry High School is getting a new name. The full school board voted Tuesday, unanimously allowing the name-change process to begin, as recommended by the board's School Names Advisory Committee.

The approval is a drastic difference from 2018 – a pre-George Floyd Minneapolis. At the time, teachers and students were torn over the name and an hours-long debate ended with postponing a vote on the issue. 

Patrick Henry was a Founding Father. While he delivered the famous "give me liberty or give me death" speech, he also owned slaves.

"I feel like he's not a person who represents me the way I identify as, the way my peers identify as," name-change supporter Farhiyo Hassan said in 2018.

"The research has shown that he was morally opposed to slavery and convinced other Founding Fathers and change their views on slavery," said Louise Seigworth, who also spoke out in 2018 but was in support of preserving the name.

According to the newly approved resolution, "students, staff, and community members recognize the need for a school name that better represents the values of the community."

Wednesday, Lashanna Murray stopped by the school to pick up free books from the Little Free Library outside the building. Her nephew will be a freshman there when classes resume Sept. 6.

"With the school being predominantly African American students in a predominantly African American neighborhood, they shouldn't have to come to school every day and see that and be reminded of that," Murray said.

The district's 2022-2023 budget includes funding to support schools with name changes in terms of covering the cost of new signs and other branding. As for a new name, it will be up to the school community to provide recommendations. Back in 2018, some students proposed "Freedom, Liberty, and Unity."

Since 1930, Minneapolis Public Schools has changed 21 school names. This includes Patrick Henry as well as Sheridan and Jefferson Elementary Schools, which were both renamed within the last year.

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