It wasn’t just J.E.B. Stuart.
At least three Richmond city schools remain named for men who served in the Confederate army while five others honor Founding Fathers who owned slaves.
The city School Board renamed J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School in the North Side for Barack Obama last year, but vowed at the time to revisit school names across the district.
Now the board is set to start the process of renaming four schools this fall – three currently being rebuilt and one being moved into another school. None of those four schools, though, are named for members of the Confederate army.
Instead they honor George Mason, a Founding Father who owned slaves; former Chesterfield County school superintendents (E.S.H. Greene Elementary and Thompson Middle) and weigh changing a combined school name rooted in facilities issues (Elkhardt-Thompson Middle). The fourth school, Thirteen Acres, is moving to Amelia Street School this fall.
“We really want to make sure we tackle the schools that are being built,” said Superintendent Jason Kamras in June, adding that the school system “may include other schools as part of that process.”
A specific timeline for the start of the renaming process has not been set.
Who are all the Richmond public schools named after?
Barack Obama Elementary
Named for the first black president. It was renamed for Obama in 2018 after originally being named for Confederate cavalry leader J.E.B. Stuart.
Above a supporter hugs President Obama at the Carillon in Richmond's Byrd Park on Oct. 25, 2012.
E.S.H Greene Elementary
The school was named for E.S.H. Greene, who spent 35 years working for the Chesterfield school system as a teacher, principal and superintendent. He was head of the school system for 16 years. He died of a heart attack at age 57.
Greene Elementary is one of several Chesterfield schools that became Richmond schools after annexation in 1970.
Elizabeth D. Redd Elementary
In 1970, Forest View Elementary was renamed in honor of longtime teacher Elizabeth D. Redd. She was the first female teacher to have a school named for her in Chesterfield.
Redd had a 47-year career in Chesterfield County schools as a teacher and administrator. The school was acquired by the city from Chesterfield in 1970.
Gurney Holland Reid Elementary
Gurney Holland Reid was a principal in Chesterfield County Schools for 36 years. He retired in 1968.
George Washington Carver Elementary
George Washington Carver, the famed African American agricultural chemist, is shown in this 1940 photo at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. According to the Institute's biography of Carver, he taught practical farming methods to ex-slaves and their descendants and helped them move away from soil-depleting cotton. His work resulted in the creation of more than 300 products from peanuts, which led to economic improvement for much of the rural South.
George Mason Elementary
Named for the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which served as a basis for the U.S. Bill of Rights. Mason was an opponent of the slave trade. However, according to the website for Gunston Hall, Mason's 18th-century mansion near the Potomac, he owned approximately 100 slaves throughout his life.
Pictured, sculptor Wendy M. Ross examines a statue that was installed at the George Mason National Memorial in the Mall in Washington, D.C. in 2002.
John Bowler Fisher Elementary
his 1952 obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, John Bowler Fisher was a doctor in Midlothian for nearly 60 years. He was a founding member of the State Board of Health and served on the MCV board of visitors for 44 years. He also served as chairman of the Chesterfield Democratic Committee for two decades. He died in 1952 at age 83. Fisher Elementary opened in 1966 and became a Richmond public school four years later.
J. L. Francis Elementary
Named for James Longhorne Francis, the principal of J.H. Reid Elementary School when he died in 1968.
J.H. Blackwell Elementary
Named for James H. Blackwell, a teacher who became the school’s second principal. At the time it was a city of Manchester school. According to
encyclopediavirginia.org, in 1910 Manchester and Richmond consolidated, and Blackwell was demoted to teacher after 22 years as principal because Richmond did not permit black principals. He retired in 1922 after more than 40 years in public education.
John B. Cary Elementary
Named for Colonel John Barry Cary, who fought for the Confederacy and was the school district’s superintendent from 1886-89.
Linwood Holton Elementary
Named for A. Linwood Holton, seen here raising his hand and being sworn in as the first Republican governor of Virginia in the 20th century on Jan. 16, 1970
Miles J. Jones Elementary
Named for Miles J. Jones, who was named to the Richmond School Board in 1970 and went on to become the panel's first black chairman. Jones is seen here in a photograph from August 22, 1972.
In a 2000 interview, Jones said "You can't possibly understand public education in this region without understanding racism."
Mary Munford Elementary
Named for Mary Cooke Branch Munford, the first female member of the city School Board (1920-31).
Named in part for Ethel Thompson Overby, the first black female principal in the district, and Eleanor P. Sheppard, the city’s first female mayor.
Pictured in March 1946, Principal Overby (second from right) and teacher Estelle H. Clark wash lunch dishes for children at Elba School. Opened in 1880 in a white neighborhood, the school on West Marshall Street was designated for black students in 1927. It was used until 1955 and later was torn down.
Named in part for Ethel Thompson Overby, the first black female principal in the district, and Elanor P. Sheppard, the city’s first female mayor.
Pictured above Mayor Eleanor Sheppard adjusted her hat in her new office in a photo that was published in the Times-Dispatch in 1962.
William Fox Elementary
Named for William Fayette Fox, the district’s superintendent from 1889-1909. While Fox would have been 25 years old at the start of the Civil War, there's no mention of any military service in
his 1909 obituary in The Times-Dispatch.
Albert Hill Middle
The school originally opened in 1926 as the “Richmond Normal School” but was closed in 1933 because of the Great Depression. It was renamed for Albert H. Hill, the school system’s superintendent from 1919-33, and reopened as a middle school.
Binford Middle (seen here in 1962) is named for James H. Binford, who is recognized by RPS as the first superintendent of the school system. According to
his obituary in the 1876 Daily Dispatch, Binford enlisted in the Confederate Army and served for 18 months with an artillery division of Howitzers during the Civil War rising to the rank of captain. He's buried in Hollywood Cemetery.
Named for Thomas C. Boushall, a member of the city School Board from 1946-54 and founder of Morris Plan Bank. He also served on the state Board of Education and helped found WCVE-TV.
Named for Fred D. Thompson, a former Chesterfield superintendent. The school was acquired from Chesterfield as part of the 1970 annexation.
Lucille Murray Brown Middle
Named for Lucille M. Brown, superintendent of Richmond Public Schools from July 1991 through June 1995.
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle
Formerly Mosby Middle, the school was renamed for the famed civil rights leader in 2004 when it was combined with Onslow Minnis Jr. Middle. Here the Rev. Dr. King speaks at a April 15, 1967 peace rally in New York City.
Thomas H. Henderson Middle
Named for Thomas H. Henderson, a member of the city School Board from 1965 until his 1970 death. Henderson, a former teacher at Armstrong High School, had been president of Virginia Union University.
Pictured in August 1963 are trustees of the Prince Edward Co. Free School Association (left to right) Dr. Robert P. Daniel, Fr. Fred C. Cole, Dr. F. D. G. Ribble, Dr. Thomas H. Henderson, Colgate W. Darden Jr. and Dr. Earl H. McClenney.
Named for Union General Samuel C. Armstrong (1839-93). According to Hampton University, in 1868 Armstrong opened the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, which was the precursor of the university.
George Wythe High
A native of Virginia, George Wythe was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a member of the Continental Congress. According to a biography by Colonial Williamsburg, while Wythe was an opponent of slavery, he did own slaves. He freed several slaves and conveyed others to relatives.
John Marshall High
Named for John Marshall, the fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. According to biographer Joel Richard Paul, Marshall opposed the slave trade, but owned slaves all of his life.
Thomas Jefferson High
Named for Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president. Pictured is a statue of Thomas Jefferson in the Virginia State Capitol. According to
Monticello.org, Jefferson owned 600 slaves over the course of his life.
Maggie L. Walker Governor's School
Maggie L. Walker was an African-American teacher and businesswoman. She was among the first woman bank presidents in the United States.
Patrick Henry School of Science & Arts
Named for Patrick Henry, the Founding Father was born in Hanover County and best known for his "Give me liberty, or give me death" speech. A biography of Henry on the website for Red Hill - a plantation he bought at his retirement - shows that Henry owned slaves at multiple points in his adult life.
Virgie Binford Educational Center
A native of Mississippi, Dr. Virgie M. Binford taught in Richmond public schools for 37 years. She also ran an educational consulting firm and taught education classes at Reynolds Community College. She was the first in her family to finish elementary school, let alone college. She earned a doctorate from Virginia Tech at age 55.