Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana is recommending that Riverton Elementary School be renamed to honor Gerald E. Talbot, a community leader who was the first African-American elected to the Maine Legislature.

Gerald Talbot

The Board of Education received the recommendation from Botana on Tuesday and will hold a first reading of a resolution to rename the school on Jan. 21. A workshop on the name change will be held the name night.

A public hearing and final vote are expected Feb. 4.

Board policy says that schools may be named to honor people who have made “a significant social contribution at the local, state, national or global level.”

“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 in a statement. “Naming a school in Maine’s largest and most diverse school district after such an exceptional leader as Gerald Talbot is more than fitting.”

Botana said Riverton, one of the city’s most diverse schools, is an ideal facility to be named after Talbot.

“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,” Botana said. “Additionally, the Talbot family has family connections that make Riverton an especially
meaningful place for them.”

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