A student-led campaign to choose a new name for Ramsey Middle School in Minneapolis (not to be confused with the St. Paul school of the same name) has zeroed in on Prince Rogers Nelson Middle School as one of five finalists.
Mathematician Dorothy Vaughan (one of the NASA scientists whose story is told in Hidden Figures), Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, and physician Martha Ripley are also among the finalists for figures to be honored with a prospective new name; a fifth finalist is “Bde Ota,” the Dakota name for Minneapolis.
The student campaign is being encouraged by the school administration and community, though a final renaming decision would be up to the Minneapolis Board of Education.
Community members have been pushing for a new name in the wake of growing awareness of troubling actions taken by the school’s current namesake, Alexander Ramsey. The first governor of the Minnesota Territory and the second governor of the State of Minnesota, Ramsey behaved towards Native Americans in a manner that many call genocidal.
Students are now soliciting feedback on the five finalists, with an aim to have the suggestions narrowed down to one to three top choices to present to a meeting of the school’s Site Council next month. If the Site Council agrees to move forward with the renaming proposal, it will then go to Superintendent Ed Graff and the Board of Education. Students are already soliciting donations to defray the cost of any potential name change, which would require new signage and other infrastructure.
A student-run Instagram account is tracking the campaign and sharing updates on all the finalists, including Prince. Based on Instagram likes, at this point the finalists seem to be running about even.
As a middle-schooler himself, Prince attended Bryant Junior High School — a Minneapolis school that closed in 1978, located in a building that’s now home to the Sabathani Community Center.