Kennard Classical Junior Academy to Be Named for Someone Less Racist

click to enlarge Kennard Classical Junior Academy is one of St. Louis' premier magnet schools. - FLICKR/PAUL SABLEMAN
Kennard Classical Junior Academy is one of St. Louis' premier magnet schools.

The Confederacy loses again.

After a years-long battle, Kennard Classical Junior Academy will become Classical Junior Academy, losing the reference to the Civil War lieutenant for the southern army, Veiled Prophet founder and St. Louis businessman Samuel Kennard.

The school will eventually be renamed to honor a different figure, apparently one without a racist past or involvement in a weird and creepy pageant that sends a weird message to students. Betty Wheeler, the pioneering Black education leader who founded Metro High School, was a popular choice on a previous petition in 2018, but that part hasn't been settled yet.

But Samuel Kennard is out, which was first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Kennard served in the Confederate Army as aide-de-camp to General Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, who served as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. In St. Louis, he took over his dad's carpet company J. Kennard & Sons and built a fortune. He moved in St. Louis' circles of wealth and privilege, which manifested in the Veiled Prophet, the exclusionary secret society that chose for its early imagery a figure that look suspiciously like an armed klansman.

Kennard's legacy has long been a problem for the Northampton magnet school. The Post-Dispatch wrote about the controversy in 2015, and the RFT reported on a petition drive in 2018.

Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams suggested temporarily changing the named to Classical Junior Academy for the 2020-21 school year while a permanent name is being decided, according to the Equity and Inclusion Committee, a group comprising parents and teachers at magnet school.

The issue finally made it to last week's school board meeting for approval.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

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