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Proposal: Rename Riverton for Gerald Talbot

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Proposal: Rename Riverton for Gerald Talbot
Posted on 01/10/2020
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Superintendent Xavier Botana is recommending renaming Riverton Elementary School after one of Portland’s most cherished and respected residents: Gerald E. Talbot. Talbot is a Maine civil rights icon, community leader and the first African American elected to the Maine Legislature.

Botana presented his recommendation to the Portland Board of Public Education at its meeting on Jan. 7. The Board will have a first reading of a resolution to rename the school at its next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21, and then hold a workshop on the topic at that same meeting. Under Botana’s proposed timeline, the Board will hold a second reading and public hearing about the renaming and take a vote on Feb. 4.

Board policy states that school facilities may be named to honor people who have made a difference, such as “a person who has made a significant social contribution at the local, state, national or global level.” Botana said that aptly describes Gerald Talbot.

“Gerald Talbot is an educator, author, historian, civil and human rights activist, founding president of the Portland branch of the NAACP and a public servant,” Botana said. “Naming a school in Maine’s largest and most diverse school district after such an exceptional leader as Gerald Talbot is more than fitting.”

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. “As Black History Month 2020 approaches, I believe it is time to make this proposal a reality,” Botana said.

He said he has recommended Riverton, one of the district’s most diverse schools, “as the ideal facility for this name change. The school is named for the neighborhood in which it is located. Riverton has a proud history and tradition. The school is working to emphasize its role as a community hub 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 would help to communicate that message. Additionally, the Talbot family has family connections that make Riverton an especially meaningful place for them.”

Botana encourages the community, especially families in the Riverton neighborhood, to join in the process as the Board considers this proposal.