Tony Thurmond Praises Renaming of Schools as Nation Confronts Systemic Racism

California state superintendent Tony Thurman is expressing support for districts across the state that have called for renaming controversially named schools. 

“When we have institutions, not just schools, that are named after Confederate leaders, that are named after those who perpetuated racism, lynching and hate, that exacerbates feelings of race in our schools,” said Thurmond.

“We need reconciliation that racism has shaped so many factors that we are still dealing with today. There are conversations ahead for sure. I think we should enter into those hard conversations, to move to that reconciliation, to move to healing.”

But the renaming trend hasn’t only affected schools named after members of the Confederacy. Berkeley Unified is taking steps to rename its Washington and Jefferson elementary schools because both of those figures owned slaves.

Attempts to rename those schools previously failed, but California—like the rest of the nation— now finds itself in a very different place. Recent police killings of unarmed Black people, subsequent protests, and excessive use of force at those protests have led to a national reckoning on race. The movement is buoyed by a U.S. president that 52% of Americans believe is racist, according to a recent YouGov poll