Fort Smith School Board will rename Confederate-named school

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FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — A western Arkansas school board plans to rename a school that pays homage to a Confederate general.

The Fort Smith School Board board on Monday voted 6-1 to change the name of Albert Pike Elementary to Park Elementary after the street where it's located.

School district Superintendent Doug Brubaker will change the name at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.

On Aug. 24, the board unanimously approved a resolution to adopt a new name for Albert Pike Elementary. The resolution required the district’s administration to establish a committee to create and suggest a renaming process that involves the school community's stakeholders.

Pike, a Confederate general, joined a petition in 1858 to “expel all free blacks from the State of Arkansas,” according to the resolution. He also wrote in 1868 that “we mean that the white race, and that race alone, shall govern this country. It is the only one that is fit to govern, and it is the only one that shall.”

Dee Blackwell, board member and secretary, noted that naming the school after the street would “stand the test of time.”

The district's move also comes as a renewed push has emerged to rename many of the schools as ongoing nationwide protests over police misconduct and racial injustice have spurred the removal of Confederate monuments. Multiple school systems, which include Alabama, Texas and Virginia, have already voted to change school names in recent months.

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