(RICHMOND, Va.) — A predominantly African-American elementary school in Richmond, Virginia, is dropping its confederate general name and will soon be known as Barack Obama Elementary.
A predominantly African-American elementary school in Richmond, Virginia, is dropping its confederate general name and will soon be known as Barack Obama Elementary.
The Richmond Public School Board voted 6-1 Monday to change the name of J.E.B Stuart Elementary School, school district spokeswoman Kenita Bowers told ABC News.
But the planning for ditching the school’s name goes back nearly a year to last summer’s rally over a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, she said. The rally turned deadly and sparked a renewed push to remove Confederate symbols across the nation, form New Orleans to Maryland to New York.
Stuart was a prominent cavalry commander and major general with the Confederate Army.
In Richmond, J.E.B Stuart Elementary had opened its doors in 1922 with its confederate general name. But now, 91.7 percent of the elementary school’s students are African-American.
After Charlottesville, Bowers said, “the community called into question whether this needs to be changed” so the school is “named for someone positive who probably represents the community in a more all-inclusive way.”
Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras agreed that a change should be made and the school board moved forward with the process, Bowers said. Many names were considered and eventually the list was narrowed to three: Wishtree (a name chosen by the young students), Northside and Barack Obama, she said.
The superintendent selected Obama and took that name to the school board for a vote, Bowers said.
“He just felt very strongly about utilizing this opportunity to rename the school for a very prominent African-American who has made history and also resonates with the students,” she said.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney approved of the decision, tweeting, “Thank you Richmond City School Board for re-naming JEB Stuart Elementary, Barack Obama Elementary. A leader we can be proud of!”
There is no set date for when the name change will go into effect but, Bowers said, it could be as early as the next school year.
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