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A Minneapolis middle school could be renamed after Prince

The campaign to find a new name has been whittled down to five finalists.
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Ramsey Middle School in Minneapolis could become The Institution Formerly Known As Ramsey Middle School.

A student-led campaign to rename the school saw dozens of suggestions, which have now been whittled down to just five finalists. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the finalists is Minneapolis' favorite son, Prince Rogers Nelson.

The legendary musician attended Bryant Junior High School but that has since been closed down, so it would perhaps be fitting that a different school take his name.

The four other finalists include Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, physician Martha Ripley, mathematician Dorothy Vaughan (of Hidden Figures fame) and "Bde Ota," the Dakota name for Minneapolis, according to the campaign website.

You can vote for your favorite here.

The campaign comes after awareness grew over the somewhat dubious past of its current namesake, Alexander Ramsey,

Ramsey Middle School teachers back the students' effort, which follows broad support expressed at a community meeting in December. However, the school doesn't have the power to change the name alone. That decision would lie with the Minneapolis Board of Education.

Ramsey's name has graced the school since 1931, 28 years after his death.

Twin Cities re-assesses its namesakes

The campaign comes after a wider re-assessment of the historic relevance of the namesakes used in and around the Twin Cities. In 2015 there was a campaign to rename Lake Calhoun after the spotlight fell on the former secretary of war and slavery apologist John C. Calhoun.

Alexander Ramsey was the second governor of the state of Minnesota but history has shown him to be a controversial figure, negotiating a 35 million-acre land purchase with the Dakota tribes, only for the U.S. government to stiff the Dakota when it came to payment.

The Star Tribune reports that in 2013, current Gov. Mark Dayton repudiated Ramsey's call for the extermination or removal of Dakota Indians from Minnesota, which followed a war over the stolen land that left 600 U.S. soldiers, settlers and Dakota dead.

According to the Southwest Journal, 38 Dakota men were hanged after the war and around 2,000 Dakota were forced from the state, including around 1,700 mostly women and children who were forced to march to Fort Snelling and spend the winter there.

Between 102 and 300 died in that camp, mostly from disease, the newspaper notes.

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