Minneapolis Public Schools renames Patrick Henry High School

The renaming of Patrick Henry High School is the most recent example of traditional American heroes, icons, and symbols being replaced throughout Minnesota.

Patrick Henry High School/Facebook

On Tuesday, school board members of Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) unanimously approved a resolution to rename Patrick Henry High School. The new name, Camden High School, will take effect on July 1, 2024.

Yusuf Abdullah, the associate superintendent of MPS, said students from Patrick Henry High School were the catalyst for the name change. According to Abdullah, students, citing Patrick Henry’s ownership of slaves, approached him with a desire to replace the name.

Patrick Henry High School is located in the northwest corner of Minneapolis between the Webber-Camden and Victory neighborhoods. Roughly 93% of students at the school are ethnic minorities. The school describes itself as a “culturally affirming” high school that pursues “liberation” for students, teachers, and residents of north Minneapolis.

The school’s mission statement does not elaborate further on what culture is being affirmed or what students are being liberated from.

In its resolution to change the name, Minneapolis Public Schools states its belief that “a school name should be inspirational and welcoming to all students.”

During the board meeting, MPS board member Kim Ellison, the ex-wife of Democrat Attorney General Keith Ellison, thanked the students, board members, and staff for their work regarding the name change. According to Ellison, those efforts “made it easy for the board to then be able to say there are some names that just aren’t acceptable; that don’t fit our values.”

Patrick Henry, often regarded as one of America’s finest orators, was a Founding Father and leader in the Revolutionary War. Recognizing the inevitability of war with the British Empire far before his colonial contemporaries, Henry famously rallied his countrymen when he exclaimed, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” in a speech at the Second Virginia Convention.

Patrick Henry High School is the most recent Minneapolis school to change its name. In 2021, the school district issued a report that recommended three schools receive name changes: Patrick Henry High School, Jefferson Community School, and Sheridan Arts Spanish Dual Immersion.

In 2022, Sheridan was renamed “Las Estrellas Dual Language Elementary,” and Jefferson became “Ella Baker Global Studies and Humanities.” Ella Baker was a civil rights activist, and las estrellas is Spanish for “the stars.”

MPS Board Chair Sharon El-Amin described the name change of Patrick Henry High School as a “vast community project.” Among the rejected replacement names were “Martin Luther King High School,” “Rosa Parks High School,” “General Vang Pao High School,” and “Never Give Up On Yourself High School.”

After multiple rounds of voting, “Camden High School” was selected for final consideration before the school board. According to an MPS presentation on the subject, “Camden” is Scottish in origin and a “gender-neutral” name meaning “winding valley.”

The renaming of Patrick Henry High School is the most recent example of traditional American heroes, icons, and symbols being replaced throughout Minnesota. In 2020, a St. Paul statue of Christoper Columbus was destroyed by a mob. This month, a state commission is officially replacing Minnesota’s flag and state seal.


Luke Sprinkel

Luke Sprinkel previously worked as a Legislative Assistant at the Minnesota House of Representatives. He grew up as a Missionary Kid (MK) living in England, Thailand, Tanzania, and the Middle East. Luke graduated from Regent University in 2018.