Now the site of Jerusalem Church, the African School was where Susan Clark was allowed to attend. When she tried to attend a public school closer to her home, she was turned away.

MUSCATINE — The recommended name for what will be Muscatine's only middle school has been announced but some residents would like the school to reveal a piece of community history.

The Muscatine Community School District Middle School Transition committee returned its recommendation last week: Muscatine Junior High School. In a news release, the committee said middle school staff were "overwhelmingly" in favor of the name.

The statement also read, "There were several recommendations to name the building after people who had an impact in Muscatine, therefore, the committee is recommending the district develop a plan to recognize individuals and/or families from Muscatine who have had a great impact to the community."

At Monday's Muscatine School Board meeting Jean Clark, retired special education teacher for 27 years at Muscatine High School, said the school board has an opportunity to educate the community and state about local history by naming the school after Susan Clark.

"Muscatine doesn't have any schools named after women" she said, "and Iowa and the U.S. have very few also."

Susan Clark was 12 years old in 1867 in Muscatine when she was denied entry as an African-American to the all-white Grammar School No. 2. Her father, Alexander Clark, sued the Muscatine Board of Directors on her behalf the following year for the right to attend. The case eventually went to the Iowa Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Clark declaring "separate but equal" unconstitutional. The case led to integration of Iowa schools 86 years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education which deemed segregation in public schools unconstitutional nationwide.

Jean Clark told the board as the 100-year anniversary of women having the right to vote and the 150-year anniversary of the Clark case approaches, it is a "perfect time to name a school after Susan and show our students women and girls do matter, and they do have a place in history, and they have helped shape laws and policies."

She said the decision to name the school after Clark would be "a bold move" because it would go against the committee's recommendation.

Board Vice President Mary Wildermuth said the board, all present except president Tammi Drawbaugh, could not comment or decide on the information presented at the meeting.

The Muscatine Community School District announced from April 30 to May 15, the MCSD middle school transition committee would accept suggestions from the public for the name of the combined West and Central middle schools. Central Middle School will close after the 2019-2020 school year and 7th and 8th grade students will attend West Middle School under the new name.

The school board will vote on the name at its Aug. 12 meeting.

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