This school is teaching an important lesson.
The last public building in Virginia's capital with a Confederate name is getting a makeover. Thanks, Obama.
On June 18, the Richmond School District voted 6-1 to change the name of J.E.B Stuart Elementary to Barack Obama Elementary.
Why does that matter?
<p>Stuart was a U.S. Army officer who switched sides to <a href="https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/j-e-b-stuart" target="_blank">join the Confederacy during the Civil War</a> and became one of the South's top military strategists. Richmond school officials wanted to let go of inappropriately honoring a pro-slavery leader, and do so in a way that built bridges in the community.</p><p>"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," <a href="http://www.richmond.com/news/local/education/richmond-s-j-e-b-stuart-elementary-school-honoring-a/article_aceff88e-9404-5b31-8434-bb5b960421e2.html" target="_blank">Richmond Public School Superintendent Jason Kamras said</a>. "A lot of our kids, and our kids at J.E.B. Stuart, see themselves in Barack Obama."</p><p><a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/richmond-virginia-renaming-school-after-barack-obama-scrapping-confederate-general-j-e-b-stuarts-name/" target="_blank">The elementary school body is 95% African-American</a> and a number of school leaders suggested swapping out Stuart's name for Obama's, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/20/us/mississippi-school-name-trnd/index.html" target="_blank">echoing a similar move at a Mississippi elementary school</a> in 2017.</p><h2>The fight over replacing Confederate monuments has been divisive, but it doesn't have to be.</h2><p>The name change in Richmond was also partially a response to <a href="http://time.com/charlottesville-white-nationalist-rally-clashes/" target="_blank">the infamous white nationalist marches in Charlottesville</a>, Virginia in 2017 in which one protester was killed and 19 others were injured during a contentious debate over a park named after the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.</p><p>Students were polled on how they would like to see the school renamed and school district officials discussed the issue before moving forward. </p><p>Even though the debate was mild, Obama himself might chuckle at the fact that he was only the student's <em>third </em>favorite choice, losing out in a school wide poll to the more generic "Northside Elementary" (named after the school's location) and "Wishtree Elementary" named after <a href="http://www.wishtreebook.com/" target="_blank">the popular children's book</a> celebrating cultural diversity.</p><p>At the end of the day, any of those names would be a preferable alternative, but there's something wonderful about directly countering the Confederate legacy with one that tells a positive story about our nation's evolution on race.</p><h2>America continues to grapple with public ties to our history of racism and oppression. This is a great step forward.</h2><p>The debate over our complicated racial history isn't going away. We can't ignore our past, and wins like this <a href="https://www.upworthy.com/sally-hemings-is-part-of-american-history-the-jefferson-estate-is-finally-honoring-her?c=hpstream">are simple ways</a> to bridge the divide. </p><p>It's time to move beyond honoring ideas and leaders who no longer reflect the values this nation holds dear.</p>
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