Minneapolis school board votes to rename school named after Founding Father

After several rounds of community voting, a North Minneapolis high school will change its name.

After several rounds of community voting, a north Minneapolis high school named in honor of one of America's Founding Fathers will change its name.

Following the years-long process calling for a name change, Patrick Henry High School in north Minneapolis will become Camden High School – the honorary recommendation made by previous Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Interim Superintendent Rochelle Cox following several rounds of community voting.

"I just want to thank the students who five years ago started this discussion, and staff who kept it at the forefront, making it easy for the board to say that some names just aren’t acceptable," said school board director Kim Ellison prior to the vote.

The new name will be effective July 1, 2024.

In 2018, both students and surrounding community members began the process of lobbying for a change to the name of Patrick Henry High School in the Camden neighborhood of north Minneapolis.

The school was previously named after Patrick Henry, who in recent years has come under criticism following further review of Henry’s conduct while alive - namely owning slaves.

In August 2022, a resolution was passed by MPS that would allow the community to vote on a name change, that it could then approve. A total of 324 name suggestions were officially submitted. Using ranked choice voting, with 960 ballots and six choices, a name suggestion needed 138 votes to be chosen in the first round.

In the first round of voting, Camden High School and Victory High School were chosen as finalists. Minneapolis Northwest High School and Prince High School were also names considered in the voting process.

According to the name change proposal, Camden High School is a gender-neutral name of Scottish descent, meaning, "winding valley." Camden is also a community in Minneapolis, covering the upper half of the north side, with its boundaries being 53rd Avenue North to the north, the Mississippi River to the east, Lowry Avenue North to the south, and Xerxes Avenue North to the west. 

Several district-led events, both virtual and in-person, were held prior to the vote in an effort by the district to raise public awareness surrounding the name change process.

Last year, the board voted to strip the name of a Founding Father off another school. In that vote, Jefferson Global Studies, named after Thomas Jefferson, became Las Estrellas Dual Language Elementary.