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Riverton School Renamed to Honor Gerald Talbot

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Riverton School Renamed to Honor Gerald Talbot
Posted on 02/05/2020
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The Portland Board of Public Education voted unanimously at its Feb. 4 meeting to rename Riverton Elementary School as the Gerald E. Talbot Community School in honor of that Portland civil rights icon.

The vote followed a public hearing that showed strong support for the renaming. The name change will take effect in the fall for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, to allow time to formally notify the city and state and for the school to make changes to its sign and other materials. The district soon will be announcing details of a fundraising campaign it plans to launch to pay for a new school sign.

Mr. Talbot is one of Portland’s most cherished and respected community leaders. He is an educator, author, historian, military veteran, civil and human rights activist, founding president of the Portland branch of the NAACP and is the first African American to be elected to Maine’s Legislature and to chair the Maine State Board of Education. Among his accomplishments were the successful passage of the Maine Fair Housing Bill and the Maine Human Rights Act and the establishment of the Maine Human Rights Commission.

The Board’s vote took place during Black History Month 2020. During Black History Month in February 2019, the Portland City Council requested the Board and district consider naming a school after this renowned City resident. This past May, the Board passed a resolution to establish a process to consider such a renaming.

“Gerald Talbot has worked tirelessly on behalf of equity for everyone in our state,” said Superintendent Xavier Botana. “The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest and most diverse school district and Equity is our foremost goal. Naming a school for Gerald Talbot is more than fitting.”

“It was truly special having Mr. Talbot present for the occasion,” said Board Chair Roberto Rodriguez. “I’m proud that the Board has named a school after such an exceptional leader, one who serves as a role model for Portland students and adults.”

Riverton, one of the district’s most diverse schools, was chosen for the name change for several reasons. The school is working to emphasize the role it plays in the community, offering a range of opportunities, supports and services to everyone, ranging from children to adults. “A new name highlighting a man who represents the broadest definition of the word ‘community’ will help to communicate that message and enhance Riverton’s proud history and tradition,” Botana said.

He also said that including the word “community” instead of “elementary” in the new name will emphasize the school's role as the hub of the Riverton neighborhood. The Talbot family also has family connections that make Riverton an especially meaningful place for them.

Watch a video of the Board’s meeting HERE.

PHOTOS: (ABOVE) Gerald Talbot (left) stands with Portland Board of Public Education Chair Roberto Rodriguez.
(BELOW) Gerald Talbot, eighth from left, with Portland Board of Public Education and Superintendent Xavier Botana.
Also, testimony is given at a public hearing before the Board's vote.

Gerald Talbot with School Board and Superintendent Speakers at public hearing on Riverton renaming