Local, National Civil Rights Figures Proposed for RCSD School Renaming


ROCHESTER, NY--Discussions have been ongoing for a number of years on changing the name of Rochester City School Number 3 from Nathaniel Rochester Middle School because of Nathaniel Rochester’s role as an enslaver.

The question for consideration is whose name should be used instead.

A public forum hosted by the RCSD last week gave students, teachers and community members a chance to give their input.

Amari Pew, a student at School 3, supports the name change, and suggested Maya Angelou should be honored. A schoolwide poll of students came up with three other national figures:

Harriet Tubman, Dr Mae Jemison, and Ida B Wells.

But national figures were not the only ones being considered. The forum also drew discussions of local figures who may be given the honor.

Joan Howard spoke about her father, Howard W Coles, the editor of the Frederick Douglass Voice newspaper, who was also heavily involved in a number of projects supporting the community.

Constance Mitchell Jefferson also advocated for the naming of school 3 after her parent-- Constance Mitchell--who was the first African American woman to be elected to the Monroe County Legislature.

Another name for consideration was Dr Alice Young. The RCSD Director of Early Childhood Education Eva Thomas, described Dr. Young’s career as one of breaking through racial and gender limits in the educational field.

RCSD Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small will be submitting a shortlist of 3 names to the School Board. The Board is expected to make a decision at its July meeting.


LAURA SMITH is a volunteer reporter for Reclaiming the Narrative. She can be reached at wxirnews@gmail.com.