A Virginia School With A Confederate Namesake Will Rename Itself After Barack Obama

The controversy over the legacy of the Confederacy in the South and its place in American history has been a subject of debate over the past few years, with people arguing about whether or not Confederate statues and other monuments should be removed. People who want to keep them say they represent an important part of history that shouldn’t be erased and that maybe the way we view them is a bigger problem than the statues themselves. People against keeping Confederate monuments generally say, “Actually, the monuments aren’t just representing history—they're glorifying the darkest period in our nation.”

And these monuments aren’t just statues; they’re also the names of institutions like schools. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 100 public schools are still named after prominent Confederates.

This leads us to J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School in Richmond, VA. Stuart was a slaveholder and Confederate general during the Civil War, according to HISTORY.

CBS News reports that Stuart Elementary is the only school in Richmond with the namesake of a Confederate general, and it looks like it will also be the last: after a school board vote on Monday, the school will officially be renamed Barack Obama Elementary School, says CNN.

This is a great change in reevaluating the South’s attachment to Confederate history, especially because Stuart Elementary’s student body is 95 percent African-American. Being a black student who has to attend a school named after a pro-slavery general should be unthinkable. Being a black student who attends a school named after America’s first black president, on the other hand, is a lot more uplifting.

Stuart Elementary isn’t the first to make this switch, either. Jefferson Davis Elementary School in Jackson, MI, named for the president of the Confederate States of America, also voted to change their name to Barack Obama Elementary School. Their student body was 98 percent African-American. And in Tulsa, OK, CNN reports that Columbus Elementary School, named for the colonizer, will be renamed after activist and woman of color Dolores Huerta.

This change is heartening to see, and hopefully, the rest of those 100 public schools still named for Confederates will be changed as well.