The school, with a 90-95% Black population, was the last of three in the district named after Confederate leaders. With this renaming, no other schools in the area carry the legacy of the Confederate States of America.
The renaming of the school to Barack Obama Elementary was a community effort. Students, faculty, and administrators submitted suggestions to the school board and voted online.
Not everyone was excited about the school being named after Barack Obama. Some school board members preferred naming the school after local heroes who more directly impacted the community.
This includes Albert Norrell, a longtime Richmond educator, and Barbara Johns, a Civil Rights leader who led a school strike.
Other school board members felt the wrong Obama was chosen. With the former First Lady’s track record of leading various education-related initiatives, they preferred the school be named after Michelle Obama.
At the end of the day, though, the students at this predominately Black school are no longer haunted by a namesake who supported the enslavement of their ancestors.