Virginia School Trashes Confederate General Name For Barack Obama

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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A Virginia elementary school voted Monday to swap its Confederate general name for that of former President Barack Obama.

J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia, will become Barack Obama Elementary School after the Richmond School Board voted 6 to 1 for the swap, reported WTVR.

Richmond community members voted to select three finalists from a list of seven nominees. Five of the original seven nominees for the new name were black civil rights leaders, politicians, and/or educators including Obama, civil rights attorney Oliver Hill, civil rights leader Barbara Johns, Richmond educator Albert Norrell, Richmond’s first black mayor, Henry Marsh. The board could also have elected to rename J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School after “Wishtree,” a book telling the tale of a tree that has witnessed families come and go, or after Northside, the portion of Richmond in which the school is located.

The board selected Barack Obama over Northside and Wishtree Monday night. Ninety-five percent of the school’s students are black.

Richmond school board member Jonathan Young, who voted against renaming the school, said that he believed in “addition and not subtraction,” when speaking with The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“The truth is that some of my colleagues want to rename other of our schools and dispatch our Founding Fathers including George Mason, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, etc.,” Young told TheDCNF. “I can certainly respect how hard and complicated this discussion is because of the awfulness relevant to what some of these men did, but to strip our country of our history and common identity both good and bad would mean us taking down the Washington Monument, removing persons from Mount Rushmore, and failing to teach that we still strive to become a more perfect union.”

Other board members did not respond to the TheDCNF’s requests for comment.

Richmond’s J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School is not the first school named after the Confederate general to rebrand. J.E.B. Stuart High School in Fairfax, Virginia, addressed tension surrounding its name by dropping the first three letters. (RELATED: Virginia School Drops 3 Letters To Try To Erase Confederate General Reference)

The renaming of Confederate schools has constituted just one prong in the culture war brewing around Confederate memorials. State and local governments have torn down at least 110 out of over 1,700 of the memorials since Dylann Roof’s 2015 Charleston, South Carolina, massacre.

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