Virginia School Removes Confederate General From Its Name, To Be Renamed After Barack Obama
J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School, named after a Confederate general, will be renamed after former President Barack Obama.
The Richmond School Board in Virginia voted 6–1 on Monday to name the elementary school – which has a student body that is about 90 percent black – after the nation’s first African-American president instead of a Civil War soldier fighting for the rights of slave owners. The vote came after months of public meetings and input from resident, including students.
“This is the former capital of the Confederacy, and J.E.B. Stuart is an individual who fought to preserve slavery,” Richmond Superintendent Jason Kamras told The New York Times. “And I couldn’t think of a more fitting change in the arc of history to have a school named after our first African-American president.”
The lone school board member who dissented had advocated for delaying the decision in order to name the school after a local figure.
“This is Richmond and we are about history and we have so many great local stories,” Kenya Gibson, who represents the school, said to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Our local stories are so important to cherish.”
This move follows ones that are being made across the country to acknowledge historical ties to slavery and making efforts to remove names and statues honoring them, especially following the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. last August that resulted in the death of a young woman.
Confederate monuments have been removed from public places around the country, protests have been held over the Confederate flag and many schools have opted to take up different names that do not honor the Confederacy. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Petersburg, Va. voted to rename three public schools named after leading Confederate figures.
According to The New York Times, a city commission said the Richmond school was the only one in the city named after a Confederate figure, and that the move to rename it reflected the progressiveness and diversity of the city, which is 48 percent black.