Deyona Burton | What’s in a Name?
Why should a 21st-century, predominantly Black student body be compelled to honor as its namesake the commander of the Confederate Army? That was the question that motivated Deyona Burton, the senior class president of Robert E. Lee Senior High School (now Riverside High), when in 2020 her efforts and those of her classmates to rename the school gained national attention. Arguing that the Robert E. Lee name was “a constant reminder of the racism and hate” that haunts its students, Deyona offers insights into the campaign to gain community support, and also issues a call to action to give youth a seat at the table.
Deyona Burton is a first-year student at Florida State University, where she is majoring in Environmental Science and Policy and minoring in Urban and Regional Planning. Deyona is the Founder of SPEAR: Showing Political Engagement and Responsibility, a Jacksonville-based initiative dedicated to increasing youth civic engagement and youth voter turnout. After FSU, Deyona aspires to go to law school and return to Jacksonville to better her community.