I normally don’t have much use for the politics of symbolism, but I will say this: It’s about time the Henrico County School Board got around to re-naming Harry F. Byrd Middle School. Naming the school after a champion of Virginia segregation is depressingly inappropriate for a school whose enrollment is 50 percent non-white and 20 percent black. A rough equivalent for white students might be attending “King George III Elementary School” or “Benedict Arnold Middle School” — but even those names wouldn’t carry the same emotional resonance.
Changing the school’s name would do nothing to address the lagging educational achievement of black students in Henrico County, which stem from deep-rooted historical, economic and cultural forces. Indeed, the controversy is a distraction from the important work that needs to be done. But renaming the school is plainly the right thing to do: The people we honor sends a message about who we are and what we value. The school board should just get on with it, take the issue off the table, and move on to matters of substance.
— JABThere are currently no comments highlighted.