Virginia School Named for Confederate General Changed to Barack Obama Elementary

A Virginia elementary school will forgo its original name, which represents a late Confederate general, and instead honor the first black president of the United States.

The Richmond Public School board voted to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart Elementary (after James Ewell Brown Stuart, a Confederate general during the Civil War) on Monday night, according to CNN affiliate WTVR. All members of the community were invited to submit possible new names for the school, and Barack Obama Elementary was picked from the list of finalists. The school now honors the first black president of the United States.

The board had voted to rename the Richmond, Virginia, school in an 8-1 landslide earlier this year. CBS 6 also states that the school population is about 95 percent African-American and many of the proposed names for the school were prominent civil rights leaders, including finalists Barbara Johns, Henry Marsh and Oliver Hill.

WRIC news reported that the students of J.E.B. Stuart were responsible for voting for the new name of the school, picking their top three choices from the seven finalists. The renaming faced little backlash, the community was united in their interest to change the name of the school.

In the end, Barack Obama Elementary beat out the other two of the top three finalists, which were Wishtree — after the book of the same title which encourages diversity — and Northside, after the neighborhood the school resides in.

The estimated cost of the name-change is around $26,000, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. $20,500 in donations was given to the school to help with the funding of the change.

Richmond, a former capital city of the Confederacy, is not the first city that chose to replace a confederate inspired school name with that of the first African-American president. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a school in Mississippi, previously named after Jefferson Davis, the only president to the Confederate States, was voted to be renamed in honor of Obama in October.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, superintendent Jason Kamras said, “It’s incredibly powerful that in the capital of the Confederacy, where we had a school named for an individual who fought to maintain slavery, that now we’re renaming that school after the first black president.” Kamras also said, “A lot of our kids, and our kids at J.E.B. Stuart, see themselves in Barack Obama.”

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