California lawmakers have advanced a bill to ban schools, parks and public property from being named after elected leaders or senior military officers of the Confederacy.
The Assembly on Monday voted 57-11 on SB539 by Democratic Sen. Steve Glazer of Orinda. The bill was spurred by a national debate over whether public buildings should fly the Confederate flag following the massacre of nine black churchgoers during Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina.
Two schools in Southern California are currently named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. California also has a Jefferson Davis Highway, named to commemorate the president of the Confederacy.
Robert E. Lee Elementary School, known as Lee Elementary, was named in the late 1950s and serves children in the Paradise Hills community in San Diego. District officials say documents show Lee's record as an “American soldier and educator” was listed as the reasons his name was chosen for the school.
California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has been working since June to have the name changed.
The school board has been considering a proposal to rename the school.
If the bill becomes law, those places would need to choose new names by 2017.
SB539 returns to the Senate for a final vote.