Concern noted if names aren’t changed soon
I am so glad you want to hear from citizens on why they support or don’t support the name change of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
I feel the name needs to be changed, and, due to recent events, I worry for the safety of those schools in the fall if the name change debate is not resolved.
There were many that oppose the change standing on the sidelines during a recent protest who yelled rude comments at protesters and made it known they were gun-carrying citizens. One of those citizens is a teacher at Lee-Davis. How can students who are working to get the names changed going to feel safe when there are teachers who are trying to intimidate them from speaking up?
I have lived in Hanover County all my life. I have numerous friends who do not support the name change. They all try to say the name is historical and not meant to oppress. I have included an article from the 1956 Herald Progress that proves that is not true. In the article citizens state their intent to keep the schools segregated.
It is easy to assume since Lee-Davis was built three years later and opened as a segregated white school that the name was chosen to deter black students. While most citizens have evolved since 1956, by continuing those names, we are carrying on the legacy or “tradition,” as some like to call it, of the citizens in 1956 to deter black students from attending.
I have actually heard supporters of the name say “If you don’t like the name, then move” -- exactly what they were hoping for in 1956.
Why are we honoring those Confederate generals? It may be history but Hitler is history and we don’t honor him.
Many like to say Lee was a brilliant leader during the war. That doesn’t change the fact that he was fighting to win the right to keep human beings as slaves. He wanted to own people as property. In today’s world that would be human trafficking. We would never memorialize a human trafficker!
Why do we want to memorialize a war that divided our country? We literally were in a war with ourselves. While it is history and we need to learn about and from it, we absolutely don’t need to honor it.
Lastly, no black student or community member should have to go to a sporting event and hear “Let’s go, Confederates!”
We should not name a public school building that is paid with taxpayer money anything that excludes or tries to oppress any of it citizens.
Don’t confuse militants with protesters
There is an ideological abyss between the militants who leveraged the Chauvin-Floyd incident to pillage and destroy compared to the protesters who assembled to improve social justice and resist racism in America. Certainly, both groups agree on that, but that is where the commonality ends.
The protesters assembled peacefully, undoubtedly appreciative of the quality of life America has provided them, while seeking to bring the aspiration of liberty and justice for all to realization.
The militants resent America and hope to tear it down. Enabled by weak and/or supportive politicians, they looted and destroyed property as though they were entitled, trampling unobstructed on law and order and the rights of others.
Any possible doubt about their program was answered when they extended the attack on Civil War monuments to include those of Christopher Columbus, George Washington and other monuments to America’s identity, even Ulysses Grant.
Who among them ever took up arms in the defense of the freedom they enjoy or lived in a dictator-governed nation or one under communism or socialism, a culture they seem to embrace? If ever they stepped on foreign soil, they were well-armed with U.S. currency/credit card(s) and the American Embassy covering their backs.
With all of its problems, America has been and continues to be the envy of the world; militants fixed on anarchy who hate our country are least qualified to chart a course for any nation, much less one that has proven its resiliency over and over.
They should take up temporary residency in North Korea, Iraq, China or Venezuela, nations they could mount rebellious campaigns against real social injustice. If they somehow survive and return, they will kiss the sacred ground upon which they dare to tread.
Everyone has the right to move
Thank you for your words of wisdom in the July 1 edition.
I would like to offer my two cents at this time.
When I grew up in New Jersey, I realized the limitations that I would face trying to make a life for myself if I were to remain in that state. Also, I did not like certain living conditions weather-wise. It was just too cold in the wintertime for me.
So, I gathered up my belongings and moved. I was not under any order to remain there, and I realized I was not going to change the entire state to suit my desires.
The same condition holds true for everyone.
Racism, abuse at heart of nation’s woes
In response to your invitation to weigh in on the changing of names of schools, etc., I just read a very good book about the Civil War, titled “Gods and Generals”.
I guess the word “God” was there because most (if not all) the generals were believers, because, back in that day, almost everyone was, the nation being founded on Christian belief and freedom of religion. Also, the country had just been named the “United” States of America; and all the citizenry behind that 100%.
Now that the Civil War has broken out, it ceased to be “united”. Almost all the generals were prominent citizens and played a serious role in the government; many in a federal role, with extended family in Confederate states.
Many generals lived in Confederate states, but had serious ties to the federal government, and had extended family north of the Mason Dixon Line. These generals were going to be a huge asset to one side or the other in this war.
It was a gut-wrenching decision for many to choose between preserving the union to stay “united”, or to honor “state’s right” from their own state. This book was not so much about the war itself, as it was about these generals and their continuous battle, and praying to God for guidance.
I think it is a disservice to these honorable men that did the very best they could under the circumstances. It was merely a sign of the times for slavery in this country.
Many very prominent and admirable men had slaves because it was acceptable and considered a “necessary evil” by many in order to have a thriving economy in the South.
Now, things have gotten very much out of hand, simply because of the one major issue -- racism and physical abuse (including killing) by police while carrying out their duty to protect the citizens.
Naming schools and removing statues may be a consideration, but it does not solve the underlying problem, but distracts from it. We need to take a step back, and have these issues taken under consideration by our governing bodies in a reasonable length of time and manner.
The problem got out of hand (violence, looting and burning) because of lack of action after prior protests consisting of the same mayhem. And, it will happen again and again if not enough is done to fix that one issue.
Ronald D. Reed
Resident: It’s time to change school names
Hi -- I am originally from New York City, but have lived in Boston, Memphis, Oxford, Mississippi and Los Angeles. So I have a sense of how race relations are all over the country, and it exists everywhere. Boston opposed busing in the 1960s, too.
My husband is from Missouri and considers himself to be a Southerner. But the whole Confederate veneration here is astounding to me -- and I lived in Mississippi!
Nothing about the desire to keep the school names relates to “history”. Hanover did not want to integrate the schools, the names were specifically chosen to prevent black people from moving here, or to intimidate them if they lived here. They wrote it in articles in the newspaper, it was no secret.
It’s not a “perception issue” for black students, teachers, staff. “Redneck Row” exists to exclude black students (while celebrating a particular culture that specifically degrades and excludes them).
When we moved here in 2008, we specifically did not search for homes in the Lee-Davis High School catchment area. We happen to be white, but the idea that black students’ only choice in school spirit is to root for the Confederates is beyond belief.
Anyway, it’s time for change.
Mechanicsville L-DHS grad: wait until new school is built
I am writing you in response to your invitation to comment on the name change at Lee-Davis High School.
My name is Marty Bohannon and I am a graduate of Lee-Davis High School (Class of 1977). I also have 12 members of my immediate family that also attended and graduated from Lee-Davis.
I now reside in Tallahassee, Florida, and keep in touch with family and friends that still live in Hanover County. I am in favor of keeping the school name the same. My reason is simple: the school is 62 years old and is on its last legs. I understand that the county has plans to build a new school in the next five to six years.
The property that the two schools set on is very valuable to developers and will bring a nice price when a new school is built. Why would the county spend a ton of money to change the name of a school that is about to be replaced in the next several years? The money spent would put a burden on all residents of Hanover County and would jeopardize education programs that benefit all students at Lee-Davis.
Lee-Davis is a blue ribbon school! I think a name change also would divide the teachers, students, and residents of Hanover County. To me, it is basic economics.
People that want a name change will have a chance to change the name when a new school is built. The county can take a vote at that time on names that have been submitted by taxpaying residents. Alumni several years ago (2016?) answered a survey on whether to change the name. The percentage was overwhelmingly in favor to keep the name.
I visit my family and friends (black and white) in Hanover at least one to two times a year. I do not hear and see a lot of the talk of changing the name of Lee-Davis.
Before writing you, I spoke with some teachers, students, and lifelong residents of Hanover County and the consensus of these people is that it is a power grab by the NAACP and a few administrative people in both schools. (L-DHS and SJMS). They stated that every election year this issue seems to arise.
Why aren’t administrators dealing with real issues within these schools? Teachers, students and parents are outraged at the drugs, alcohol and disrespect for authority that exist today. Changing the name of the school is not going to make these problems go away.
In closing, you asked the question of why people do not care about the “deep scars” the school names cause? I don’t hear it and I don’t see it. My question is that if you have such a deep hatred for the name of the school, why go there? Why would alumni move back to this school district, if they have deep scars caused by the name of the school?
These two schools are blue ribbon schools! Why would you destroy a young community’s opportunity for a great education? Politics and power?
I’m 62 and retired. I enjoyed my years at both schools and have had a successful career in business. This might not mean a whole lot coming from an elderly alumnus, but I still have Lee-Davis Pride.
Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts.
Changing names asks: At what cost?
All Hanover County taxpayers have currently spent $75,000, above and beyond the $200,000 that the county’s legal insurance policy put forward on the NAACP lawsuit to change the names of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
In the ruling, the judge has laid out what was missing, which is a road map for the appeal. Any and all legal steps in that appeal will be paid from Hanover County tax coffers.
So yes, the Hanover County School Board (HCBS) votes to change the names; the Hanover County Board of Supervisors (BOS) votes to approve the funding to continue the lawsuit. All 14 members of those two boards have some say in this. I’m not a lawyer, but this seems pretty basic common sense, and all taxpayers should be interested as all Hanoverians are footing the bill for this lawsuit and any future ones.
As I understand it, the way forward for the appeal is: (1) to identify specific victims who have been harmed by the schools names in the past two (2) years. I cannot imagine that such individuals would be difficult to find. Any family that enacted school choice and asked to transfer out of L-DHS and had that request denied equates to a victim. Any athlete who objected to wearing a LDHS jersey and was told by a coach, teacher or administrator that to compete he/she had to wear the team jersey in order to participate equates to a victim. Without the ability to compete, college scholarships could be on the line – that is potential harm. (2) A victim also implicates a “perpetrator”. I’m wondering if there are any SJMS or L-DHS coaches, faculty, staff or administrators willing to ‘volunteer’ to fill *this* role? (3) In addition, if there is a victim who has been harmed, I also have to wonder what a personal injury claim will cost the county taxpayers? As a AAA-bond rated conservative county, where are the funds allocated for costs such as these?
We have a National Park in Hanover and it’s a fitting tribute to the heritage that is the Civil War. If we want to honor heritage without the negativity that the names SJMS and L-DHS carry, why not change school names to Cold Harbor Middle School and High School?
If the entire state of Mississippi is ready to change a state flag, the United States Marine Corps and NASCAR have both banned displaying the 1950s version of the “Confederate flag” (actually the modified version of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia battle flag), it would seem our county should wake up too.
We can frame school name change as “bowing to pressure of a lawsuit” or we can frame it as “getting with the times”.
In addition, when we’re hearing that COVID-19 is severely impacting county revenue, outlying rural areas do not have internet for youth to participate in distance learning and the coming school year will certainly have this need, how can the supervisors and school board leaders justify continuing to spend taxpayer funds on lawsuits?
Changing the names is a one-time expense, continuing to fight lawsuits could be a bottomless pit.
This fiscal conservative has asked the supervisors and school board members where funds are coming from to continue lawsuits about school names, as well as plans to pay for injury claims?
I encourage everyone to ask themselves – at what cost? And then to ask the supervisors and school board members as well.
Michelle Schmitt, PhD
Understanding both sides on school names
I wanted to respond to your question in this week’s paper. Hopefully from a perspective that’s being considered, but likely not one too many are thinking of with all the emotions flying from both sides.
I have a daughter that graduated from Lee-Davis High School and attended the middle school, Stonewall. I also have a son currently at the high school and had the best middle school years at Stonewall.
However, I really don’t have a personal connection to the names themselves.
I understand that there are people that have deep feelings for and against them. I can absolutely understand the feelings on both sides though.
Here, though my hesitation in changing the names is much more about the cost. Not just the dollar cost, but the effect of that dollar cost on the students and staff.
There are already a tremendous amount of things missing in these schools that affect the ability of the administration/teachers and students from getting the absolute best education. Example: Many schools have laptops for students -- not these schools. In fact, a lot of the technology-related courses are lacking because the computers and equipment needed are so out-of-date and limited. They don’t get books because of their cost, but don’t have online abilities to supplement the textbooks. The teachers (as with most schools true) often spend out of their own pockets for supplies and tools that the budgets already don’t afford them -- not to mention their salaries are nothing near their valuable service. The buildings are old, worn down and even unhealthy in some parts.
My point is that the cost to change these things just takes that much more from the staff and students. I had heard an astronomical figure that in my mind is not worth the cost to their education. My curious thought is: Could the mascots be changed without these costs?
Another thing is to my understanding there are two new schools set to be built. I have not seen the details of this, but couldn’t this be the compromise?
Could there be an agreement that the new schools will be different names and mascots?
Long gone are the days of compromise -- the days of weighing the pros and cons. I just don’t see why in either case these new schools can’t be the compromise.
Those for the names would see their pride retired in a positive way, while those wanting the changes will have this new path going forward to the changes they so desire.
I’d challenge everyone to become a bit more educated (especially with regard to Lee-Davis, who was quite vocal against slavery) and to consider the cost to all the students, including those they feel are being hurt with the current names.
They all will feel the brunt from slashed educational budgets. I hope this gives a peaceful perspective without emotional attachment.
I am a proud parent to say my students learn and interact with an amazing staff of administrators, teachers and other students in both of these schools.
Masks missing in photo inside polling place
The July 1, 2020, edition of The Mechanicsville Local had a front page photo of a family at the Atlee High School precinct titled “Starting out Young”.
It appears the family was inside the school when the photo was taken.
It’s wonderful that these parents voted and took their kids with them, emphasizing the importance of voting.
If The Local was going to use a shot from inside the polling place, I think it could have gotten an additional message in by showing a photo of a family wearing masks.
This would have shown not only the importance of voting, but also of looking out for poll workers and our fellow Hanover County residents during COVID-19, following the Governor’s mask guidelines.
Lee led peaceful end, healing process
The July 1, 2020, edition of your fine newspaper has a letter to the editor stating “Robert E. Lee was not a gentleman. He stood behind slavery.” This is in stark contrast to numerous scholarly works over the ages.
Scholars have consistently attested to his noble character. He was tested daily under extreme conditions of human endurance and then, with calm wisdom, led a peaceful end to the nation’s calamity and led the start to the South’s, and thereby the nation’s, healing process.
So, instead, it’s time to start burning books?
Lawrence J. Cogut
Suggestions for changing other names
If you’re determined to change the names of these schools [Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School] to appease the ignorant minds of the left, then you might want to change the names of these as well.
Gandy -- Might be offensive to some since he was president of VSU in Petersburg.
Atlee -- Names for State Delegate Jacob S. Atlee who rode with the 4th Virginia Cavalry.
South Anna -- South may be a reference for Dixie.
Washington-Henry --Both slave owners.
Henry Clay -- Slave owner.
Cold Harbor -- Battle in which the Confederate Army handily defeated the Union forces.
Battlefield Park -- Another reference to the War Between the States.
The unhinged left will not stop with just two names ... they want it all their way.
Stop the insanity or Richmond will soon be in Hanover. Look at what they’ve done!
Lee-Davis Class of 1970
Election will determine usage of name
Harold Ackerman in his letter stated, “I made the wise decision not to watch that channel -- ever” and then he quotes Fox News twice in his letter. I find it interesting that a person who does not watch Fox News is able to quote what they say.
I also find it interesting that he does not consider the election of Donald J. Trump legitimate. Obviously he is entitled to his opinions, but I would ask him what President Trump would have to do to be legitimately elected. I seem to recall President Trump won by a rather wide margin.
Mr. Ackerman also refuses to use President Trump’s name, which I find interesting, and I can only assume he would have been happy to call Mrs. Clinton by her name if she had been elected.
It could be that after the next presidential election, Mr. Ackerman will be able to watch Fox News and call the President by his name: Donald J. Trump!
Response to letter blasts Democrats
This is a reply to Don Ducote. It seems like all you can do is bloviate how bad President Trump and the Republicans are. You sound to me like you have an extreme case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
You talk, but no action, because you and your Democrat Party are for open borders, lawlessness, corruption, murder of the unborn. I can keep going. Your party has kept the American people hostage, and Americans have died because of your agenda.
Riots, murders, arson, and looting are taking place in Democratic states because the governors and mayors are too corrupt and incompetent to do anything. They take glee in the destruction of property.
Your party has curtailed the police so bad they can’t do anything. Anarchy in these cities -- that is your party, with chaos and stupidity.
Does one Democrat have a bit of common sense? No, so don’t run your mouth about something you know nothing about.
Why voters should go with Dems
This letter to the editor is intended to add to the letter from Don Ducote, which appeared in the July 1, 2020, edition this publication.
I would like four bullet points added. There are many more items that could be added, but occupying that much space would likely be determined by the editor as infringing on the rights of others to have their letters published.
It is important for me to apologize in advance to anyone of German descent for the misnomer I chose for the current squatter in the White House. If the editor determines that she will not publish this letter because of the misnomer I chose, I will accept that decision.
l As far as I know, all of the men who have served as the Pope had a moral compass, decency, empathy for those less fortunate, and a conscience. That being said, I think Der Fuhrer the First (and last) of the United States is a much better title for the current squatter in the White House, instead of Pope Trump the First (and last). With every filth-laced tweet or manifesto that comes from his fingers and every filth-laced diatribe that comes out of his mouth, he proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he is nothing but a dictator – aided by his defense attorneys in the House, Senate, Supreme Court, FBI Director’s Office, and Attorney General’s Office -- whose strings are being pulled by the puppet master named Vladimir Putin. He doesn’t even pretend to hide his blind hatred and insane rage for anyone and everyone who doesn’t look like him or act like him. If anyone dares to tell him the truth about something important or tell the truth about his malfeasance and outright criminality, that person is risking being called human scum, told they are agents of the “Fake News Media” or the ”Deep State”, and then threatened with arrest and conviction of treason against the United States. There is no doubt in my mind that Attorney General Bill Barr (a/k/a Roy Cohn II) and FBI Director Christopher Ray (a/k/a Roy Cohn III) will do exactly that on demand from Der Fuhrer the First (and last) of the United States. He knows the 35 to 40 percent of the voting age population that makes up his voting bloc (a/k/a the basket of deplorables) cheers through the rafters when he does that. I think Hillary Clinton was wrong to say “half of the Republican voters fall into what could be called the basket of deplorables.” I think she should have said “all of the Republican voters fall into what could be called the basket of deplorables.”
l Der Fuhrer the First (and last) of the United States has threatened to use the military to “dominate the cities if the mayors and police can’t or won’t”. We know that was a covert way of saying that he will order the military to start killing unarmed civilians, who are exercising their 1st Amendment right to peacefully petition the government for some type of reforms or changes. Needless to say, his basket of deplorables was cheering through the rafters when he came out with that filth. Needless to say, the silence from the Republicans in the House and Senate was deafening. Should he actually decide to cross that line, I have faith that the military commanders will refuse to obey it.
l Der Fuhrer the First (and last) of the United States has openly stated that he has the military, the police, and the 2nd Amendment rights activists to help him stay in power until at least the end of 2022, if he loses the 2020 election. He makes that claim on the premise that he is entitled to an extra two years because of the “illegal, unconstitutional impeachment carried out by the Democrats”. He got that idea by listening to none other than Jerry Fallwell Jr., Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, Joel Osteen, and Robert Jeffress. Once again, his basket of deplorables was cheering through the rafters when he came out with that. Once again, the silence from the Republicans in the House and Senate was deafening. Should he actually decide to cross the line of ordering the military to help keep him in power if he loses the 2020 election (with the Supreme Court refusing to overturn the result), I again have faith that the commanders will refuse to obey such an order.
l Der Fuhrer the First (and last) of the United States has once again asked (code for demanded) the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Health Care Act (known to him and his basket of deplorables as Obama Care). He knows that at least three Justices will rule in his favor. I don’t think I need to call them out by name, since everyone knows who I’m referring to. Needless to say, he intentionally chose to do that in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sickened approximately 2,740,000 people in the United States, of whom approximately 130,000 have died. By the time this letter is published, those totals will obviously have increased substantially. He knows this virus will cause lifetime pre-existing medical conditions for those who contract it, but don’t die. He has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he wants to be nothing other than a Nazi for however much longer he remains in the White House. If five Justices of the Supreme Court rule in favor of Der Fuhrer the First (and last) of the United States, they will have given him free reign to fulfill his biggest fantasy of the last four years, and they, along with Der Fuhrer the First (and last) of the United States, will die -- preferably in a supermax federal prison -- with the blood of many millions of people on their hands. They will have become co-conspirators in committing crimes against humanity, by giving Der Fuhrer the First (and last) of the United States what amounts to a license to have more people killed in the United States than Hitler had killed in all of Europe.
Some people will surely cast aspersions at what I’m saying in this paragraph. I won’t sink to their level and give them the written response they are expecting. My mother had a brother who was killed in World War II. He was killed for a noble cause. He died trying to keep someone like Der Fuhrer the First (and last) of the United States from ever being able to get anywhere near the White House. Preserving democracy is an idea good enough to kill and die for. I do not want my uncle’s death to be in vain.
This country must never again let anyone even remotely similar to Der Fuhrer the First (and last) of the United States get anywhere near the White House. I’ll quote the late Elijah Cummings, “This is not who we are. We are better than this”. It is incumbent upon everyone who is legally eligible to vote, has a moral compass, and just one scintilla of decency, to vote for the Democratic candidates for President, Senate, and House this November. Our very democracy literally depends on it.