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Hanover to discuss changes at schools named for Confederate leaders

Posted at 7:52 AM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 08:01:24-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Some community members are calling on the Hanover County School Board and Board of Supervisors to rename and change the mascots at Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

The school board is scheduled to discuss school name and mascot changes Tuesday night.

Monday night, residents gathered together to pray, reflect, and speak at the Community School Board Vigil for Educational and Racial Justice.

The vigil was planned after weeks of community members protesting and reaching out to school board members about the change.

In May 2020, a federal judge dismissed a case where the NAACP Hanover County Chapter filed for the school names and mascots to be changed.

The lawsuit stated that with Confederate-named schools, students were being denied an equal opportunity to education, free of compelled speech. The Hanover County NAACP Chapter has filed for an intent to appeal case that slated for Mid-July.

For years, the names of both Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School have been a topic of discussion.

At the top of this post are a few article clips from the Herald Progress ( discontinued in 2018) that share community news, events, and editorials about Lee Davis High and a bit of history with Hanover County School Board and Board of Supervisors.

With the case and some in the community calling for change, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam recently called on all schools with names and mascots that honor Confederate leaders, to change them. He compared the Confederate-named schools to Confederate statues.

"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. This is no longer acceptable," Northam wrote in a July 6 letter to school board chairs in Virginia.

When asked for comment, the Hanover County School Board Chairman John F. Axselle III sent the following response:

"While I understand your interest, the School Board cannot comment on the Governor's letter due to the pending appeal of the Hanover NAACP’s lawsuit against the Hanover County School Board regarding the names and mascots of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School. As always, the School Board respects, values, and cares about every student and will continue to focus on providing them with the best educational opportunities possible."

Community members in support of a name change have been donating to a GoFundMe account to help with paying for the cost of changing the school names and mascots. They're hoping for change at Tuesday night's meeting.

"Name changes are happening all over the country right now," LeMar Bowers, Hanover resident and parent, said. "Those doors are opening up and the door that we want to open is to now be able to change at an institutional level. To create equities in schools, to reduce education gaps to improve outcomes in urban communities in rural communities. So what we do in Hanover, we view as a gateway to getting the soul of America back."

Hanover County School Board will have a closed meeting at 6 p.m. and are scheduled to discuss the renaming and changing the mascots of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

The meeting will open to the public virtually at 7 p.m.