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Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Hey, everyone! Tamica here, education and families reporter.
First off, I would like to send our deepest condolences to Burnley-Moran Elementary School Principal Elizabeth Korab and her family as they grieve the death of their 12-year-old son, Calvin Ness. Calvin died last week after he was hit in the head with a baseball before a game. We know that this death has impacted the Burnley-Moran Elementary School community, and appreciate the messages many of you sent to us about him. On behalf of Charlottesville Tomorrow, we are so sorry for your loss. He will be deeply missed.
Calvin’s family put out a brief statement you can read in this CBS19 article. The Daily Progress also wrote a lovely story about Calvin that you can read here.
The great nephew of one of the Burnley-Moran Elementary School namesakes defends his aunt’s legacy
I didn’t think I would have to ask myself “What is in a name?” so much until I moved to Virginia. Coming from Florida, I rarely heard stories of communities rallying together to change the name of a building, institution or structure that was named after a person with a controversial history.
I’ve covered the Charlottesville’s school renaming process closely since it started at the end of last fall. I thought most of my stories were going to be centered around the School Board meetings themselves.
That changed when I saw Chuck Moran step to the podium at a February School Board meeting. Chuck is the great-nephew of Sarepta Moran, one of the two namesakes of Burnley-Moran Elementary School. The district is changing that school’s name, citing Sarepta’s and Carrie Burnley’s connection with racist organizations and leadership during segregation. Chuck isn’t trying to stop the name change, but he said the way his aunt has been portrayed is unfair.
“A woman who gave her life to educating the children of Charlottesville is being represented as someone who supported slavery and white supremacy by inference, without proof,” he told me.
I thought his perspective was interesting — as a descendant, and someone who shared a special relationship with one of the namesakes, what does this process mean to him? I was curious to see where that viewpoint fit in the renaming process. And, more importantly, I wanted to explore the complexities that arise when someone defends a person who participated in racist organizations and institutions.
As a white school principal during segregation and a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the American Revolution, that is who Sarepta was. And I’ve heard from Black City School students and alumni during this process about how bad it feels for them to attend schools named for people who sat dormant during a period of intense racism. This is a tricky issue, but it’s important that we talk about it.
I knew talking to Chuck would be a way for the community to see how these issues affect actual people, and I appreciate him for taking the time to speak with me. And I also want to thank Patricia Edwards, Phil Varner and all the other people who made themselves known during the reporting process. I hope this story is able to offer a different perspective on what it means to take charge in changing history.
Be on the lookout for some of the stories I have cooking for Charlottesville and Albemarle County. We will be taking a deep dive into Albemarle’s decision to reintroduce a school resource officer at Albemarle High School. Also, there is going to be a shift in the Charlottesville School Board this year, and I will look into what that could mean for City Schools overall. If you have any tips on either of these issues, hit reply to this email or contact me directly at tjeancharles [AT] cvilletomorrow [DOT] org.
Thank you for following our education coverage and supporting us at Charlottesville Tomorrow. And, if you’re able, please help us add 100 new people to support our work in May. Any amount gets us closer to our goal.
Tamica Jean-Charles, education and families reporter
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