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Virginia school board restores Confederate names after vote

  • May 12, 2024
  • 2 min read
Virginia school board restores Confederate names after vote

A school board in the state of Virginia has voted for a motion for two schools to revert back to their Confederate names. The debate over Confederate names and monuments has caused much division in America over the years and this is the latest episode of that.

The Shenandoah County School Board voted 5-1 to reinstate the names of Stonewall Jackson High and Ashby-Lee Elementary in Quicksburg, previously known as Mountain View High and Honey Run Elementary respectively. The names come from Confederate generals Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and cavalry commander Turner Ashby.

Community members had fought to restore the names after arguing that the changes in 2020 was unpopular. The vote marks the first time the US has seen such a ‘U-turn.’  A large crowd showed up to the school board’s public meeting to listen to arguments from residents on both sides of the debate.

After the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020 and a summer of protests and discussions on racial justice, several states including Virginia took down Confederate statues from public spaces. There was much controversy as many believed that the monuments preserved history while others argued that they glorified the Confederacy which fought to preserve slavery.  

“It is time to change school names and mascots that memorialize Confederate leaders or sympathizers,” then Democratic Governor Ralph Northam wrote in a letter to the school board. The Shenedoah County School took just three days to rename the schools. In doing this, the six-member panel also approved a resolution to condemn racism, affirming its “commitment to an inclusive school environment for all.”

However, some criticised the decision as hasty and democratic and have fought ever since to restore the original names, with local elections reshaping the school board. A vote in 2022 failed after a 3-3 tied vote but those who voted against the move have since been replaced on the board.

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