A school board in Florida has voted 5-2 in favor of renaming six Jacksonville public schools so they are no longer named for leaders of the Confederacy who sought to perpetuate slavery.
The Duval County Public School Board voted on the name changes Tuesday, a year since the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in May 2020 reignited efforts to rid the nation of monuments to historical racists.
Joseph Finegan Elementary will become Anchor Academy; Stonewall Jackson Elementary will be renamed Hidden Oaks Elementary School; Jefferson Davis Middle will be changed to Charger Academy; Kirby-Smith Middle will be known as Springfield Middle School; J.E.B. Stuart Middle will be called Westside Middle School; and Robert E. Lee High will become Riverside High School.
Superintendent Diana Greene recommended each of the name changes a week earlier after reviewing input from stakeholders including alumni, community members, faculty, staff, PTA members and students.
Efforts to strips the schools of their Confederate-inspired names had ramped up after Floyd, a Black man, was murdered while being arrested by a White police officer in Minneapolis a year ago.
Mayor Lenny Curry said last June that Jacksonville would remove all of its Confederate monuments. Warren Jones, a school board member and former president of the Jacksonville City Council, filed a bill days later that started the process that culminated in the vote to rename the schools, The Florida Times-Union reported.
“The School Board’s decision to rename six schools in Jacksonville is a giant step forward in righting a racist ideology. We don’t need schools named in honor of slave-holding generals,” said Ben Frazier, the founder of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville activist group.
“That our children had to go to schools that were named to honor a disgraceful past was an injustice. The School Board’s vote tonight rejects those ideas and is a victory for Jacksonville,” said Mr. Frazier, the Times-Union reported.