Richmond school honoring Confederate general to be renamed for Obama

Published: Jun. 19, 2018 at 11:11 AM EDT
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A Virginia city is rebranding its only school named after a Confederate general to honor the United States' first black president.

The Richmond School Board voted 6-1 Monday to rename J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School to Barack Obama Elementary School.

The only dissenting vote came from Kenya Gibson, who represents the school on the board. Gibson suggested offering more time for the board to review the top three names suggested by students, but that motion was deferred.

School board members had been discussing the possibility of renaming the school for months. J.E.B. Stuart was a prominent Confederate cavalry commander and a slave-owner.

A committee was created to lead the discussions, five public input sessions were held, and an online survey was conducted.

The top three possible names were revealed Monday night: Northside, Barack Obama, and Wishtree has gotten the most votes from current students.

Those knocked away suggestions like John Adams Elementary and Jackie Robinson Elementary. Other top choices included Oliver Hill Elementary, Barbara Johns Elementary, Albert Norrell Elementary, and Henry Marsh Elementary.

RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras recommended the school be renamed after the former president, but board member Kenya Gibson suggested voting at a later meeting to allow the board more time to consider local names.

"There's no local person on that list," board member Gibson said.

"Maybe what you should do is name it after a place or something more relevant so that you don't offend anybody," said Cindy Anderson, an RPS parent.

School Board members said they hope the name will promote inclusion within the community.

The board estimates it will cost about $26,000 to rename the school. There's no clear timeline of when the name change will take effect.

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