When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18, she left much of the nation in mourning. The feminist icon who devoted her life to the pursuit of justice was an inspiration for many women and girls, including the daughter of Portland residents Rachael and Nate Waas Shull.
With the help of her parents, the fifth-grader recently created an online petition to ask her school district to consider changing the name of her school from Kellogg Middle School to Ruth Bader Ginsburg Middle School. A new school building is currently under construction and set to open in 2021, so the young student saw this as the perfect opportunity for the institution to honor a new legacy and have a new name to go along with its new look.
The middle school’s current name was chosen in honor of Joseph Kellogg, a Portland businessman who lived in the city in the 1800s. He was a steamboat captain who created one of the most successful steamboat lines in the Pacific Northwest in his time.
“We have a lot of schools (far too many, in my opinion) named after white businessmen. Lastly, if kids go to schools centered only on white males then kids who are not those two things may feel unimportant, or worthless even,” the girl stated in a letter on Change.org, where her petition was posted. “I trust that you do not want kids to feel this way, so I hope you will take my ideas into consideration.”
She is seeking 2,500 signatures and, at the time of this writing, had received more than 2,300 and counting.
Currently, Ginsburg has a few notable namesakes. A unique one came in 2016, when a newly discovered species of praying mantis was dubbed Ilomantis ginsburgae by researchers at Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Case Western Reserve University.
In 2019, Samuel Adams launched a new beer named When There Are Nine, which was a nod to Ginsburg’s famous reply to the question, “When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?” However, it seems only fitting for the late American icon to have more than just brews and bugs named after her.
A Portland-resident who supports the girl’s petition signed his name and added the comment, “We want to see a pillar of our community (a new school!) be named after a pillar of the last century!”
So far, Portland Public Schools hasn’t issued any official reply to the proposal.