Capitol Alert

Senate sends Brown bill on Confederate names

Portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee, officer of the Confederate Army.
Portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee, officer of the Confederate Army.

Public schools and roads in California bearing the names of Confederate leaders will soon need to rebrand if Gov. Jerry Brown signs Senate Bill 539.

The state Senate on Tuesday voted 31-2 to send the measure to the governor’s desk. Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, introduced the bill this summer in the wake of Charleston church massacre, arguing that California should not be honoring those who nearly tore the country apart during the Civil War to protect slavery.

Several opponents raised objections to “revisionist history,” a charge that the state is effectively trying to erase ugly or uncomfortable parts of its past.

“Just because of contemporary feelings, you’re just going to wipe out some very important individuals,” Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, said.

But Glazer pointed out that “this measure does nothing to change our history books – not a word, not a paragraph.”

“It’s a matter of moving on as a nation,” added Sen. Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, a co-author.

Among those institutions that would be affected are two elementary schools in Southern California named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The small coastal city of Fort Bragg, a former military outpost named for an officer who later defected to the Confederacy, was exempted to ease passage of the bill.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

Related stories from Sacramento Bee