« White House Ratchets Up Political Pressure to Reopen School Buildings | Main | State Guidance on Reopening Schools: A Roundup »

Confederate-Named Schools Honor 'Racist Past,' Virginia Governor Says

070820_Ralph_Northam_AP-BLOG.jpg

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is urging school districts across the state to change school names that honor Confederate figures, declaring that names reflect a "broken and racist past."

"When those names reflect our broken and racist past, they also perpetuate the hurt inextricably woven into this past," Northam wrote in a letter this week to school board chairpersons across the state. "When our public schools are named after individuals who advanced slavery and systemic racism, and we allow those names to remain on school property, we tacitly endorse their values as our own."

Schools named for leaders of the Confederacy, both public and private, have come under renewed scrutiny amid the national Black Lives Matter protests.

Virginia is home to 24 of the nearly 200 U.S. schools, spread across 18 states, that are named for men with ties to the Confederacy, an Education Week analysis of federal data found. The state has the second highest total in the country, trailing only Texas.

Schools in Virginia were among the first in the nation to approve name changes this year. In recent weeks, Schools in Fairfax County and Prince William counties in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., have decided to rename schools named for Gens. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.

But one school district in the state is still clinging to its school names. In May, in Hanover County near Richmond, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by the local NAACP chapter that sought to force a name change for two district schools: Stonewall Jackson Middle and Lee-Davis High, named respectively for Lee and Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate states.

Northam's stance on Confederate schools and monuments stands in stark contrast with state leaders in places such as Alabama, where the state attorney general has vowed to uphold a state law that prohibits the removal of Confederate statues and the renaming of most Confederate-named schools.

Here's a look at Northam's letter:

   Northam School Names Letter by corey_c_mitchell on Scribd

Related Stories

Data: The Schools Named After Confederate Figures

The Schools That Bear the Name of Segregationists

As Monuments Fall Across the South, Will Districts Reconsider Confederate-Named Schools?

Photo Credit: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam gestures during a news conference at the Capitol Wednesday April 8, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Northam gave an update on his Covid-19 plans. (Steve Helber/AP)

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments