The California state Senate has voted in favor of banning the naming of schools and public buildings after Confederate leaders from the Civil War. It is now headed to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's desk for approval.
The bill, SB-539, was introduced earlier this year in California as a response to the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting that claimed the lives of nine black churchgoers. The suspect in the shooting, Dylann Roof, is allegedly linked to a white supremacist manifesto, and photos showed him with the Confederate flag, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Many retailers across the country have since banned the selling of Confederate-related merchandise, including Amazon and Walmart.
The legislation to ban Confederate names on public property passed the California state Assembly in August, and after passing the Senate, it will now head to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for final approval.
Democratic state Sen. Steve Glazer introduced the bill and said it “shines the light” on the practice of naming buildings in a manner that celebrates “traitorous leaders” who “attempted to break our nation in two to continue to enslave black people.”
If signed into law by Gov. Brown, any state or local property that currently bears the name of a Confederate leader will have to be changed by Jan. 1, 2017. City and county names and any buildings named for them are exempt.
There are two Southern California elementary schools that would be required to change their names under the bill, Huffington Post reports. They are each named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
"I don’t want to erase their names from our history books," Glazer said. "I just don’t want our children looking up to people who fought to preserve a system that treated human beings as chattel."
An opponent of the bill, Republican Sen. Jim Nielson, said that banning the names would be removing important individuals from history.
"If anything, this is revisionist history … Just because of contemporary feelings, you’re just going to wipe out some very important individuals," Nielson said.