Posted on July 2, 2023

Richmond, VA., Schools Rename the Last of Their Confederate-Named Schools

Caitlyn Meisner, Education Week, June 28, 2023

The ongoing nationwide campaign to change the names of schools bearing the names of Confederate War figures reached a turning point of sorts last week, as the city that was once the capital of the confederacy—Richmond, Va.—announced plans to rename its last schools with Confederacy-linked names.

The school board said four schools would undergo name changes immediately. They are: John B. Cary Elementary, Ginter Park Elementary, Binford Middle, and George Wythe High, all of which were named and built between 1913 and 1951. John Cary, Lewis Ginter, and James Binford all fought for the Confederacy; Cary and Binford were also superintendents of Richmond. George Wythe was an attorney general during the Colonial era. Going forward, two of the schools will carry the names of Richmonders who were major contributors to or pioneers in the city school system.

Jason Kamras, Richmond’s superintendent, said the district feels it has a duty to children to make sure the name across the school is “one that the children can be proud of.”

He said the district is not trying to set a national precedent, but is committed to removing these Confederate-affiliated names.

“We have a shared commitment to removing any names that are associated with the Confederacy and ultimately with the ownership of enslaved Africans,” Kamras explained. “That seems like the bare minimum we could do for our kids.”

The affected schools, like the district itself, also serve a largely Black population. At the former Ginter Park Elementary, 93 percent of students are Black, according to Education Week’s research. The student population at the former Binford Middle and John B. Cary Elementary schools are both more than 60 percent Black.

Nationwide, campaigns to rename schools after Confederate leaders peaked following high-profile, race-related incidents, such as the the May 2020 killing of George Floyd and the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and then experienced a lull as COVID-19 spread, causing school shutdowns.Nationwide, 59 such name changes have occurred since Education Week began tracking them in June of 2020.

{snip} With these latest changes, Richmond became the city with the most name changes. This decision has also made Virginia the state with the most name changes in the nation.

Other states—mainly Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, and Texas—have retained Confederacy-linked names on dozens of schools. As of June 2023, Texas has 88 schools across the state named for Confederates and Georgia has 61.


Stephanie Rizzi, the chair of the city’s school board, said the district wants to move beyond commemorating Confederates who supported enslavement.

“That would include the ancestry of most of the children who attend Richmond schools,” Rizzi noted. “Names matter, and we want our educational spaces to carry names that communicate that our young people are loved.”


The former John B. Cary school is being renamed after Lois Harrison-Jones, the first African-American and female superintendent in Richmond. Ginter Park is renamed to Francis W. McClenney, after the first Black teacher and principal at the elementary school.

Binford Middle’s new name is Dogwood Middle, after Virginia’s state flower and tree. The district is rebuilding George Wythe High and converting it into an arts high school named the Richmond High School for the Arts.

The district has not discussed whether to rename two other schools—one named for John Marshall and the other for Thomas Jefferson. {snip}