No evidence to support claim of segregation
This is in response to your "No sarcasm" column of July 1, 2020, in which you requested feedback on the names of Stonewall Jackson Middle School and Lee-Davis High School.
Over and over again, I've read that the names of both schools were chosen to reinforce segregation, yet I've never seen any evidence to support that assertion.
I think it is much more probable that the names were chosen because Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson fought in the area -- the battlefields of Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines Mill, and Cold Harbor are only a few miles away -- and because Jefferson Davis visited there during the fighting.
Jackson marched his army down what is now Lee-Davis Road in 1862 on his way to fight at Beaver Dam Creek and Gaines Mill. Lee and Jackson both camped nearby.
In the same way, Battlefield Park Elementary School is so named because it is on a battlefield.
To my knowledge, no one has actually published anything on what the school board -- or whatever entity named the schools when they were constructed -- said about their reasons for choosing the names.
Without that, I think it is probable that the names hearken back to a major event in county history, and that no one was trying to send a message about the importance of segregation.
Christians don’t keep people as possessions
(Editor’s note: The following was addressed to Rick Marksbury, Ph.D, whose letter appeared in the July 8, 2020, edition of The Local.)
I agree with you that many throughout history admired Lee's character. But consider his relationship with slavery was something trivial to privileged white society up until recently. Those people never gave it a second thought when considering his character. They only considered his leadership as a general and statesman of which he was outstanding.
As for his status as a Christian, like many today, it was in name only. I know that a real Christian does not keep people as possessions and fight a bloody war for the right to do so.
As for the relevant history, you point out the platitudes and ignore the relevance of the dark side you'd rather not hear about.
You ask what I know that those leaders you quote did not . . . nothing. What I do know is the part related to slavery and oppression was not in their thoughts when admiring Lee. It was trivial up till recent times.
And I do have personal feelings, because I'm not ignoring some relevant history, even if it isn't relevant to you and some others. Slavery was evil and is part of his legacy even if some choose to dismiss it.
Robert E. Lee did have some great qualities and can be admired for those qualities, but for too long history has dismissed his and others for their involvement in slavery.
We don't need statues to glorify these people. If we are interested we have access to that history 24/7. It's called the internet.
If we like to see it up close and personal we are surrounded by Civil War historical sites . . . most of which I have visited.
History isn't going away when we take down statues and change names. It's just going where it belongs -- in the history books and at historical sites.
Responding to letters about school names
Here are a couple brief responses from recent letters to the editor regarding school names:
Kim Daniels seems intent on dredging up an article from 1956, which she says proves intent to keep schools segregated. Considering, sadly, it was the current law of the day, and you have your own Democratic Party to thank for that.
It took Republicans to pass all meaningful legislation into the 1960s for any kind of racial equality. Historical side note: Robert E. Lee was not a slave owner and considered it morally repugnant.
Christine Eubanks tells us she has lived all over the country, thus giving her special insight into race relations. She also enlightens us that Hanover County Public Schools’ names were chosen specifically to deter black people from attending . . . so she’s also a very old expert in city planning.
As part of her civic duty, she even states she specifically searched for homes outside the Lee-Davis School District because of the name. You chose Rutland. I guess that makes you a hypocritical, pandering fabricator of the truth who envisions themselves a city planner with a side gig in race relations. I would like to know how that conversation went with your realtor though.
Harold Ackerman: I made an honest attempt to read your 5th grade book report on Donald Trump. My conclusion: I want those 30 seconds of my life back. So, when you’re done yelling at kids to get off your lawn, go out back and feed the chickens.
The Gold Star though goes to our Hanover County School Board members voting for name changes. If you were elected because you ran on a conservative platform, you are a coward. And now you’ve proven you will pander to a mostly false narrative.
You’ve now shown you can be manipulated fairly easily. You’ve now admitted a name is all the reason to rewrite history.
You have now set a precedent in Hanover County which states: This board can be convinced to change street names, business names, farm names, statue names or any name deemed by anybody to be offensive.
Are you now prepared to ban certain chapters in history books? Hanover County, Virginia, history? Where does it stop?
I doubt many of you actually understand the factual history of slavery in this country. This willful ignorance saddles you with no identity or conviction.
My fear is you’ve set this county up for future failure by capitulating to a mostly false narrative. Get ready, there are many more coming.
John St. George