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Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023
Charlottesville and Albemarle County are now swiftly changing the names of local schools — specifically those who were named for people who were central to our racists legacies. In the last two weeks, Albemarle renamed its Meriwether Lewis Elementary School to Ivy and Charlottesville renamed Clark and Venable elementary schools to Summit and Trailblazers.
In each case, the school districts’ decisions were influenced by the racist views and actions made by the schools’ namesakes. Meriwether Lewis, half of the Lewis and Clark duo who explored the Pacific Northwest, was an Albemarle County landowner who enslaved people. It was for that reason, mainly, that the county school board voted to change the name — despite the fact that the school’s students and local community members voted to keep it.
Albemarle School Board votes to rename Meriwether Lewis Elementary to divest itself from racist past
After hearing community members argue over whether Lewis was worthy of being honored in a school name, the school board decided it had enough of debating the merits of historical people and voted that none of its schools will be named after humans.
Charlottesville is still reconsidering every school in its system named for a person. It decided against keeping Venable, named for a Confederate officer who worked directly under Gen. Robert E. Lee, and against Clark, named after a brigadier general who supported white settlers taking land occupied by various Indigenous groups.
With those first schools renamed, school officials are now turning their attention to two more elementary schools named for individuals: Burnley-Moran and Johnson Elementary Schools.
And they’re looking for community input.
City Schools opened surveys earlier this week asking a single question: Do you want to keep the names or change them? The district will hold a Zoom meeting on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. to discuss that issue. Those interested in participating at the forum should RSVP on the school’s website.
The two schools are both named after former City School leaders. We’ll have more information on who those people were later this week.
Thank you for reading,
Jessie Higgins, managing editor
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