While recent trends have seen some Confederate monuments taken down and certain buildings renamed, there are still plenty left across the country.
Soon, though, there will be one fewer, as an Atlanta school board voted unanimously to rename a high school after Braves legend Hank Aaron. Aaron passed away in January at the age of 86, and is as big a sporting hero (in every sense) that Atlanta has ever had.
In the wake of his passing, the Atlanta Board of Education voted this week to change the name of the Forrest Hill Academy to instead honor Aaron’s legacy. Said out loud, “Forrest Hill” would seem like a nature honorific, but that extra “r” is carrying a lot of weight, as the school was named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former Confederate general.
If your instinct, for whatever reason, is to react to that with “But, hey, states’ rights!”, Forrest was a slave trader before the Civil War; shortly after the war ended, he was elected as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. It’s hard to imagine a school getting a more striking upgrade in terms of who its named after.
From Vanessa McCray at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The Atlanta Board of Education on Monday voted unanimously to change the name of Forrest Hill Academy, an alternative high school located in southwest Atlanta. When students return to the school in August, the new name will be Hank Aaron New Beginnings Academy.
Dropping the “Forrest” name and “what it really symbolizes” is a significant move, said board member Michelle Olympiadis.
The unanimous school board vote was important, as normal policy would require a waiting period to honor someone who recently died barring unanimity. Fortunately that wasn’t an issue here. Considering who the school was named after relative to who it will soon be named after, it’s hard to imagine a bigger upgrade.