The JAX Chamber board of directors announced April 16 it unanimously passed a resolution asking the Duval County School Board to change the names of six public schools that are named after Confederate soldiers.
“This is an economic development issue,” JAX Chamber Chair Henry Brown, who serves as president and CEO of Miller Electric, said in the news release.
“We are asking companies to invest here, and for top talent to move and live here. We say that we are open to everyone and I believe that we are. But, right now, we have six school names that tell African Americans otherwise.”
Those schools are J.E.B. Stuart Middle School, Jefferson Davis Middle School, Joseph Finegan Elementary School, Kirby-Smith Middle School, Stonewall Jackson Elementary School and Robert E. Lee High School.
The chamber is not taking a position on three schools that also are included in the renaming process: Andrew Jackson High School, Jean Ribault Middle School and Jean Ribault High School.
Jean Ribault was a French naval officer who was a significant figure in colonizing Florida.
The renaming process began last year, and has included community meetings and surveys. Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Diana Greene could make her recommendation by early May.
There are 12 schools in the state named after Confederate soldiers, the release said.
“Our public schools should reflect the open, inclusive community that we are,” Brown said.
“The Chamber is taking action to expand economic opportunity to everyone in our community, including creating the Lewis and White Business League and expanding the role of the JAX Chamber Foundation. Supporting the name change of these six schools is one more way for the business community to say that everyone is welcome in Jacksonville and everyone can succeed here.”