Hanover residents sound off after school board’s decision to rename Lee Davis HS and Stonewall Jackson middle

Residents sound off on school name changes

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Residents in Hanover are having mixed emotions about their school board’s decision to rename Lee Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson middle school.

The school board voted 4-to-3 to do away with the names of two schools named after Confederate leaders.

“I’m pretty for it [to be removed], its about time. I think we needed to support those who have died for us, but we also need to understand the brokenness in those people and what they stood for was imperfect,” said community member Justin Robins.

“It should’ve been done a long time ago,” said community member Donetta Nelson.

“If its an offensive thing, why not? What’s the harm in a name change,” said Asiah Afsharie.

“To go back on history and try to rewrite history is to me - is not productive,” said Daniel Kennedy, whose against the removal.

Two others residents who wanted to stay anonymous said that they feel that the money should’ve went to the students instead of the name changing. One in particular said, “that all lives matter and as far as the school renaming, the name doesn’t matter right now. If you don’t take an interest in your child’s education the name of a school is not going to matter one way or another.”

Change isn’t always easy, but several residents felt it was time for more diversity and acceptance.

“Some times we have to rip off the band aid,” said Robins.

“I didn’t think it would happen. This is something we’ve been fighting for years,” said Nelson. “Change is needed here. It’s needed everywhere.”

But some Hanover County residents say the school board’s decision to spend money to rename Lee Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle school shouldn’t be a priority.

“They be much better off spending it on I.T. that will be needed and not on changing logos,” said Kennedy.

Others say in order to grow, new seeds must be planted.

“I’m sure people have been hurting for along time and it has been pushed off,” said Afsharie.

“To have an African American be in a school where you say, ‘go Confederates, go rebels’ - you should never be put in that situation,” said Nelson.

Now, the next debate is what to rename the schools.

“There’s some many names out there, let’s choose someone that doesn’t represent hatred or racism,” said Nelson.

“I would name it after something geographic or something that people can’t argue about,” said Kennedy.

The timeline still needs to be worked out but the school board welcomes all public opinions. Ultimately, the school board makes the final decision.

The decision comes two months after a federal judge dismissed an NAACP lawsuit that alleged the names violated the constitutional rights of black students.

“The school names have been a symbol of inequality for the African American community. The decision by the School Board today was long overdue and a first step towards racial justice in Hanover County. We are encouraged that the Hanover County School Board made the right choice today.”
Robert Barnette, President of the Hanover County NAACP

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