HANOVER CO., Va. (WWBT) - The Hanover NAACP is continuing to call on county officials to change the names of two schools named after Confederate leaders.
“The school board has refused to change these symbols of racial injustices,” Hanover NAACP President Robert Barnette said.
The organization has filed a lawsuit against Hanover County and the school board.
“For decades, students in Hanover County have been forced to attend schools barring the names of Confederate leaders,” Barnette said.
The lawsuit demands a name change for Stonewall Jackson Middle School and Lee-Davis High School, which are named after Confederate leaders.
“The time has passed where the name should be changed from Lee-Davis and Stonewall Jackson,” Harold Stills said.
In 1966, Stills became the first African-American teacher at Lee-Davis High School. He says African-American students have always felt excluded partly because of the name.
“There were no cheerleaders at that time because they couldn’t cheer using the name of Confederates,” Stills said.
Avi Hopkins graduated from Lee-Davis and says it was hard for him as well.
“That is not a space that is conducive for all people,” Hopkins said.
The lawsuit claims students’ 1st and 14th amendment rights are being violated, and also their rights under the equal education opportunity act.
“I think keeping the name is important. I also think we need to provide context,” James Lytle said.
Not everyone agrees.
Lytle doesn’t believe the Confederate leaders were right but says it’s a part of history.
“I think we need to keep the name because we need to be reminded. If we are not made uncomfortable, we don’t pay attention,” Lytle said.
NAACP leaders hope the county will make changes without going to court but they are prepared to fight.
"To be called a Confederate or rebel is derogatory,” Barnette said.
County and school board leaders are not commenting on the matter.
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