School board members said Forrest’s legacy was at odds with the community and its values.
“The South has a lot to offer with respect to historical teachings and oppression,” Michelle D. Olympiadis, a school board member, said during the meeting. “It’s very important that we understand our history.”
The name change, which was reported earlier by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is emblematic of a nationwide reckoning on symbols of the Old South and slavery that was catalyzed by the death of George Floyd last year while in police custody in Minneapolis.
More than 160 Confederate symbols were removed from public spaces or renamed last year after the deadly encounter, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has campaigned for those symbols to be abandoned.
“Names do matter,” Jason F. Esteves, Atlanta’s school board chairman, said at Monday’s meeting.
The vote to rename the school in Atlanta came as officials in Jacksonville, Fla., where Aaron played for a season in the minor leagues, were considering incorporating Aaron’s name into a baseball park there.
Aaron made his major league debut with the Milwaukee Braves on April 13, 1954. Early in his career, Black players were barred from hotels where white teammates stayed during spring training in Florida. He pressed management for change, with no immediate success.