Stonewall Jackson is out, Now Roberto Clemente Middle School
Roberto’s Legacy Lives On In Florida’s Schools
The Roberto Clemente Foundation is proud to announce that a new public facility is taking the name of our beloved father, brother, and friend. After a process full of heavy delays, Orlando’s Stonewall Jackson Middle School is changing its name to Roberto Clemente Middle School! The decision comes at an exciting time for us, as we celebrated Clemente Day earlier this month and are approaching the anniversary of his 3000th hit.
We think Roberto would be glad to see America face its complicated past. He faced racism and prejudice throughout his career, and always stood up for himself and everyone who was less fortunate than him. The Clemente legacy lives on!
How Did We Get Here?
Clemente Middle sits in the Engelwood Park neighborhood, on the east side of Orlando. It was built in 1964, four years after Ruby Bridges was escorted to her first grade classes and ten years after Brown v. Board of Education. Segregation was the great issue of the day, and Roberto did not keep silent.
“I represent the common people of America. So I am going to be treated like a human being. I don’t want to be treated like a Puerto Rican, or black, or nothing like that. I want to be treated like any person.”
By the turn of the century, Engelwood Park had changed. Jackson Middle was no longer serving an all-white student body. Today, its students are 75% Hispanic and 14% black. They deserve a school named for someone they can look up to.
Thanks to a unanimous decision, Roberto Clemente Middle School is now in the process of changing its signs and uniforms to reflect the new name!
Who We Have to Thank
Changing the name would never have happened on its own, so we want to thank some of the community members that helped push it through. There’s Amman Thomas, a local father of two students at the school. He began the renaming campaign in 2017.
“As an African American, as an American descended from slaves, the name Stonewall Jackson is extremely offensive to me,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. He’s relieved that the process is now complete.
There’s also Father Jose Rodriguez, who faced racist bullying when he was a student at Jackson Middle. He is now the rector at the Episcopal Iglesia Jesus de Nazaret, two miles from the school. His activism was also essential for getting the name changed. Thank you, Father Jose!
We also extend our thanks to board chair Teresa Jacobs, Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins, and Marcos Vilar with Alianza for Progress.