From students at Lewis Elementary School:
Hi! We are a group of Lewis Elementary upcoming 5th graders! Our goal is to change the name of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School. Meriwether Lewis was a white explorer and member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The exploration of Oregon by Lewis and Clark resulted in the stealing of land from Native Americans. Also, the expedition had an enslaved person present, named York, who was not paid for their work. We understand the importance of Meriwether Lewis in Oregon history however we do not believe that our school needs to be named after him. We believe that school names should be inclusive of all and are too often named after white people.
We are proposing changing the name to John R. Lewis Elementary. John R. Lewis was a civil rights leader and Congressman who is known for being one of the “big six” civil rights activists. He was born on February 21, 1940 in Alabama. As a teenager in the 1950’s he was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and started his activism work while in college. In 1960 he was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizing many events like the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the Selma-to-Montgomery campaign and the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. John R. Lewis was arrested over 40 times for his activism and received the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama. He was a representative of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 until his death in 2020. We believe that naming our school John R. Lewis would be a way to honor this important leader in our country’s history.
We believe that it is very important to get input from the Lewis community on the idea and the new name we have proposed. We kindly ask that you sign our petition to give your input. Thank you!