The Virginia city that acted as the capital of the Confederacy has renamed one of its schools in honor of Barack Obama — a different historic figure altogether from the southern military leader who was once the school's namesake.
The move by J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School in Richmond is the latest the state has considered in the aftermath of last year's deadly white nationalist protest in Charlottesville.
Monday's 6-1 vote by the Richmond School Board to rename the school to Barack Obama Elementary School also came just one day before Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.
"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," school Superintendent Jason Kamras told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "A lot of our kids, and our kids at J.E.B. Stuart, see themselves in Barack Obama."
It's not the first time a school has been named after Obama. The newspaper noted schools in Connecticut and Maryland were named after the former president. Another school in Mississippi was renamed to honor the former president, and also had been named after a Confederate soldier.
James Ewell Brown "J.E.B." Stuart was a leader in the Confederate army in Virginia and gained notoriety after several successful raids on Union soldiers. He was partially blamed for the failures during the Battle of Gettysburg — the largest battle during the Civil War and considered a turning point that helped lead to an overall victory for Union forces.
He died in battle at age 31.
The area has renamed a series of schools named after Confederate leaders, such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, but the decisions have been contentious debates.
Some feel the monuments and other honors named after the men celebrate slavery and a dark part of American history, while others believe renaming facilities and knocking down monuments and statues depicting the war and military leaders is an attempt to erase history.
The debate was part of the genesis that led to the protest last summer in Charlottesville after city leaders decided to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from a community park.