HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – Dozens attended a public hearing Wednesday night to weigh-in on whether two schools should be renamed.
Andrew Shannon with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference wants new names for Jefferson Davis Middle School and Robert E. Lee. Elementary.
“Students should not be required to attend schools named for those who fought to keep a race of people in bondage,” Shannon told the school board.
But the overwhelming majority of speakers disagreed. Some said that removing the names would be erasing history.
“We as citizens of Hampton should strive to be inclusive and to me that means embracing and including the past, even the parts that not everyone is comfortable with today,” one speaker said.
Others opposed to renaming the schools argued that the division simply has more important matters to deal with, and better ways to spend money and resources.
“It’s money wasted that could be spent on good education for our future students in the city of Hampton,” one woman said.
Even a student chimed in on the matter: “why don’t we focus on the priorities that Hampton City Schools has to go through? Like, accreditation.”
Shannon said that historical figures who sought to oppress should not be glorified. He said money shouldn’t matter.
“Cost is never a factor when you’re right and in this matter we’re right and we’re going to continue to educate the public.”
School board members told 10 On Your Side they are considering all sides of the debate.
“We won’t make any determinations until we hear everyone,” said chair Martha Mugler.
A second public hearing is scheduled for June 1 at Jones Magnet Middle.
Mugler said the board will deliberate on June 22.