The Richmond (Va.) School Board has voted to rename J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School, the city’s lone Confederate-named school, in honor of former President Barack Obama.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the 6-1 vote approved the recommendation of the district's administration that the school should have the name of the nation's first African-American president.
Kenya Gibson, the school board’s representative for the area where the school is situated, was the lone vote against the renaming. Gibson unsuccessfully pushed for the vote to be delayed, upset with the lack of local names included in the administration’s recommendation
Richmond isn’t the first school division to rename a Confederate-named school for Obama. In Mississippi, the Jackson school board voted in October to change the name of a school from Jefferson Davis to Barack Obama.
The Richmond board declared in April its intent to rename the school, which has a student population of more than 90 percent black students.
Students at the school vote for their top three choices. Northside was the leading vote-getter among students with 190 votes; Obama got 166 votes and Wishtree received 127 endorsements.
The administration recommended that the school be named for Obama.
“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,” Superintendent Jason Kamras said. “A lot of our kids, and our kids at J.E.B. Stuart, see themselves in Barack Obama.”
The district estimated that it would cost $26,000 to rename the school.
Across the United States, there are 100 schools named for prominent Confederates, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Virginia is home to 15 of the 100 Confederate-named schools, according to the study, more than any state except Texas (36).
J.E.B. Stuart in Richmond opened in September 1922. An effort to rename the school in 2003 didn’t get off the ground after five board members killed a proposal.