On the Renaming of Community Colleges

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

A school task force has recommended that John Tyler Community College be renamed Brightpoint Community College.

I can understand getting rid of the John Tyler name. He was a slaveholder and a member of the Confederate Congress. He also happened to be a former president of the United States, but only because William Henry Harrison died from pneumonia after a month in office. Tyler was not a founding father and his presidency was undistinguished.

But Brightpoint? I’m sorry, but that is a stupid name. It sounds like one of those made-up names for banks.

The Richmond Times Dispatch quotes a spokesman for the college explaining that the new name “reflects the uplifting and welcoming environment we strive to create for all. Brightpoint also aligns with our mission, vision, values and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”  The president of the college said, “The name is vibrant, like the people and communities we serve, our employees and the work we do.”

What a load of PR nonsense.

There are any number of alternatives better than Brightpoint, such as Chesterfield (that is where it is located), Appomattox River, Two Rivers (it is near the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers; this is was one name considered), Henricus (if we want to be historical; this was one of the first settlements beyond Jamestown and was located near the site of the community college). The task force decided not to recommend naming the college after a person. Otherwise, they could have picked Pocahontas, who is thought to have been born near this area.


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64 responses to “On the Renaming of Community Colleges”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar
    LarrytheG

    yes, sounds like home health care or some such.

    YUCK!

  2. John Harvie Avatar
    John Harvie

    Was at W&M in the late ’40s, s with Tyler’s only living grandson, Harrison Tyler, both of us Chem majors then. He’ll not be pleased; in a nursing facility per Internet.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Let’s you know how young ancient history really is. 3 generations covers US history.

      1. WayneS Avatar

        Three? Not quite.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          US 1781 to …
          John Tyler, b1790 and last I heard one grandson is still alive.

          Like the lady podiatrist said to me, “That’s not a foot!”
          “Purt’near.”

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    How about Tippecanoe Community College?

  4. DJRippert Avatar
    DJRippert

    Well, one consideration is getting a URL. As an entrepreneur who has started three companies I can assure you it’s not easy to find a good URL. My companies were iVelozity, SmartUbiquity and FastEdge. Even with FastEdge we had to use the .ai extension since the .com extension was being squatted.

    I personally think the time and money spent to effect a name change would be better spent lowering tuitions or awarding scholarships to the needy but so be it. The woke must virtue signal their wokeness on an ongoing basis I guess.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar
      LarrytheG

      so much for addressing Plantation Elite, eh?

    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      At least you never worked for the office supply company Pen Island, or was the unfortunate mayor of Mole Station, Australia

      1. DJRippert Avatar
        DJRippert

        I did work (for 30 years) for a company that had to find a new name after a break-up. A naming company offered such “winners” as Omnique and MindRocket. On the side, there was an employee naming contest. It was more to engage the employees than to look for a real, new name. However, it was the employee naming contest that came up with the actual name that was used.

        That name?

        Accenture.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          True story. Had a friend worked at Honeywell. They were bought by Bull and had an employee contest to suggest a new name. At my suggestion he put in “Bull Software Hardware Integrated Technologies”. He won $100.

          The winner? Bull Worldwide Information Systems.

          Fortunately, Bull was a French company. Otherwise, he might’ve been fired, instead of an honorable mention.

      2. WayneS Avatar

        Did the change the name to Avagadro Station?

  5. LarrytheG Avatar
    LarrytheG

    50 African Americans Who Forever Changed Academia

    https://www.onlinecollege.org/50-african-americans-who-forever-changed-academia/

    Now, I don’t expect many white folks do realize these blacks folks made a difference. It’s likely part of us white folks collective ignorance where many of us seldom think of other cultures successful folks.

    What will it hurt to name at least SOME of our Community Colleges after successful black folks especially after decades of naming them after famous slave owners?

    1. WayneS Avatar

      The fact that you do not recognize these individuals and their achievements as part of the culture of the United States says a lot.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar
        LarrytheG

        I totally agree. Do you recognize most of the 50?

        I admit my own ignorance, easily. I was never taught any of them, although I was taught of many white slave owners and Confederate heroes, and they were quite often characterized in laudatory ways, not so for those African Americans, not a single one was mentioned as I recall.

        The bigger point – why are most of our community colleges NOT named for these individuals and instead for many slave owners?

        Is it “racist” to point this out?

        And if you actually DO KNOW black history, and most of those 50, I do apologize to you for my ignorance of what you know.

        But if you actually don’t, will you admit it?

    2. DJRippert Avatar
      DJRippert

      “It’s likely part of us white folks collective ignorance where many of us seldom think of other cultures successful folks.”

      Collective ignorance? Speak for youself.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar
        LarrytheG

        How many of the 50 did you know? I admit, not many. You’re the guy who blatherrs on and on about Plantation Elite and who also went to a school named TC Williams if I recall correctly. Can you tell me who TC Williams was and what he was known for and why he should have a school named after him instead of a black historical figure in education?

    3. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Larry, you are nastiest racist on here. “I don’t expect many white folks…..” Sounds just like the Kendi book I’m reading now. Such a person with a Virginia connection, of which there are many, would be fine names I’m sure.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar
        LarrytheG

        It’s “racist” to point out the truth and in turn the REASON WHY black folks are just fine with renaming schools currently named for slave owners and not significant black folks including ones in education (in spite of their treatment by white folks at the time of their leadership)?

        See, you can call what I said as racist but when you do this ” Larry, you are nastiest racist on here.”, I’m going to turn it back on you. YOU are the racist because you essentially deny the way history has been told and you call people who tell the truth about it – racist.

        Do you have a clue why many Black folks feel the way they do about the way we have represented history by ignoring the role of significant black folks and instead choosing to name institutions like Community Colleges – not only not for significant people but instead for slave owners?

        You blather on and on about not dying on some hill for some of this, but then you go do exactly that Mr. Racist. When did I hear you say that the statues needed to come down and names changed? Instead… it’s “not worth” dying on some hill for. Right?

  6. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    John Tyler rules! 5th great grand uncle

    1. tmtfairfax Avatar
      tmtfairfax

      John Tyler is a distant cousin of mine, along with Barack Obama, Harry Truman, Dick and Liz Cheney and Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor.

  7. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Undistinguished? Much more to Tyler than that

    1. DJRippert Avatar
      DJRippert

      An undistinguished president is like a short NBA center. At best, it’s a relative matter.

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        Wes Unseld was only 6 foot and five inches.

    2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      I figured that I would be some push back from our resident historian on that designation.

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        I bet you didn’t know that Harry Truman can claim John Tyler as third great grand uncle. Thanks to Tyler, who passed the test of presidential succession, things were much easier for his nephew to become one of the great presidents of the 20th century.

        Tyler’s other chief achievement, setting up the annexation of Texas. It wasn’t going to pass while he was in office. Tyler had lost all political capital. But President Polk was easily able to fulfill the Tyler annexation treaty.

    3. WayneS Avatar

      The Whigs tried to impeach him, didn’t they?

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        Tyler was thrown out of the Whig party for using the veto to stop all of the Whig bills. Tyler had to jettison Harrison’s Whig cabinet. Sec of State Daniel Webster attempted to dismiss newly minted president Tyler as a mere caretaker. Webster believed that Harrison cabinet should make all of the important decisions. Tyler asked for their cooperation or their resignation. I tell you Tyler served the nation well by navigating the ambiguous waters of presidential succession. By the end of his term Tyler was a man without a party and had no chance in running for another term of office. I consider Tyler an important check against the excesses of the Jacksonian Democrats and the greedy Whigs. Another Tyler accomplishment. He ended the 6 year depression known as the Panic of 1837. It was the worse that the nation had endured up to that point.

  8. WayneS Avatar

    Tyler died before taking a seat in the confederate congress.

  9. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Revolutionary War Battles,
    States,
    Cities,
    Action Heroes, and
    Fish.

    And then they screwed up and added Presidents.

    1. John Harvie Avatar
      John Harvie

      Should have had royals???

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Reptiles.

  10. Publius Avatar

    How about…leave the name alone?
    No one truly cares and hasn’t cared, ever, about names until the Marxists started playing this game. No one of a bunch of educated people, well, maybe JWW, knew who George Rogers Clark was and what he did.
    How about for this achievement – as of 2013, he had 3 grandchildren still alive! The Tyler men outlived their wives, remarried and had a lot more kids. One girl was at UVA with me and said Tyler was her great-grandfather…and she wasn’t lying!

  11. tmtfairfax Avatar
    tmtfairfax

    Ditch all the names. Steve is right. Do what NYCPS did for decades for elementary schools. Give all the schools in a division a number. Fairfax County ES 23; Arlington County Middle School 3; Prince William High School 7. Community College 56 (Loudoun County).

    1. Bubba1855 Avatar
      Bubba1855

      I grew up in Fairfax County…(I’m retired now)…graduated from Fairfax High School. I now live in York County, SC.
      For at least the last 30 years, all , like ‘all’, new schools are named after their geographical location…No issues here regarding the names of the schools.

  12. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    How do you possibly pick the name of any human being, living or dead, in this heated environment and not spark a reaction? That is where we are, as bad a place as it is. “Community College Number 17.” What was the name being discussed to replace Lord Fairfax? Laurel Ridge? Sheesh. Now, I can accept the argument that a looming image of Bobby Lee on a horse was viewed as insulting by many, but until all this nobody had even thought about Fairfax or Tyler at all. Any student who claims to have been intimidated gets a big “doubt that” from me. This is just virtue signaling.

    The fact that nobody knew who Fairfax or Tyler were is the better reason for change, but I’m sure we can find real people to honor if we recognize everybody has at least one clay foot.

      1. tmtfairfax Avatar
        tmtfairfax

        What if he stopped more minority drivers than white drivers on proportional basis?

        1. LarrytheG Avatar
          LarrytheG

          On a per individual basis , perhaps, especially if he/she had a notorious local reputation but my point is that you want to memorialize folks that have widespread and diverse cultural support that spans race or ethinicity, etc…

          thus if a guy/gal had a reputation of treating some people of color badly, and you actually had a good public process, that would come out.

          And in general, if you hame something Potomac or Rappahannock or similar… those are Native American names that as far as I can tell, are almost never opposed.

          Like I said – it’s really not that hard to find things that don’t have problems with diverse populations.

          In the past, we had folks like the UDC that had an agenda of naming their favorite heroes and blacks never had a vote or even a voice to oppose.

          And now, those things named that way originally are vulnerable for removal.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      I scratched my head over Laurel Ridge, too. I have tried, but I can’t find a geographic place or mountain of that name in Virginia. They should have gone with Shenandoah. “Blue Ridge” is already taken. “Mountain Laurel” would have been a good name, as well.

      1. WayneS Avatar

        The closest thing I can find is a mental health clinic named Laurel Ridge in Princeton WEST Virginia.

        And of course, West Virginia was once part of Virginia, but we’re not supposed to talk about that any more…

        Seriously, though, I like the name Mountain Laurel.

    2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead

      Ahh if only you had been in my class Mr. Steve. You would have known full well of the important mentor relationship between Fairfax and Washington. You would have known that Lord Fairfax was right up there in the big leagues of colonial Virginia politics. Fairfax was on par with William Byrd, Thomas Lee, and the enumerable first families such as the Carters and Randolphs.

      You would know about John Tyler too. At least you would have remembered my story of meeting John Tyler’s living grandson and getting our first rate tour of Sherwood. Tyler is a key man. Figured out how to transcend from VP to the big chair. No direction manual. Constitution was vague here. Resisted a Daniel Webster led cabinet cabal. Restrained all of the wingnut Jacksonians, Know Nothings, and greedy Whigs with the veto. Paid the deficits and ended the Panic of 1837 by raising tariffs despite the tantrum from John C. Calhoun. The Texas Annexation Treaty is all Tyler and expediently approved when Polk assumes the office.

      I would have mentioned this too. My namesake and Tyler’s grandson, Robert Tyler Jones, were in the color guard of the 53rd Virginia at Pickett’s Charge. 4 color bearers were cut down and then Robert Tyler Jones carries the battle flag to the stonewall at the angle until wounded. Ironic that a president’s grandson carried the colors of the 2nd American Revolution to the very high water mark.

  13. DJRippert Avatar
    DJRippert

    Why are colleges, etc always named after politicians? Maybe that’s the issue. Politicians are KSEs – Known Slippery Eels. Who knows what skeletons will come out of their closets?

    Here are some famous non-politician Virginians (all deceased) to consider:

    Arthur Ashe
    George Marshall (semi-politician)
    Maggie Walker
    Ella Fitzgerald
    Sam Snead
    Booker T Washington
    Chesty Puller
    Oliver Hill
    John Brown (that’ll fry the plantation elite)
    James Armistead Lafayette
    Nat Turner (also will fry the plantation elite)
    Jack Jouett (savior or fops and dandies)
    Pocahontas (hell, the plantation elite insists they are all descendants)

    Or, some ling Virginians …

    Lawrence Taylor (maybe not the best example for kids)
    Pat Benetar
    Dave Grohl
    Ralph Stanley
    LarrytheG

    I think it would be great for a young Virginian to say, “I attend LarrytheG Middle School”.

    1. WayneS Avatar

      Why not stop altogether with the naming of things for individuals?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar
        LarrytheG

        That actually has been discussed and implemented in some places. Some of our new schools are Freedom Middle, Chancellor High, Riverbend High, etc, and we did rename R.E. Lee one of the oldest schools in the county.

    2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      Oops, Ralph Stanley is dead. But, his would be a good name for a community college, especially in Southwest Va.

      This is a good list. I would add Barbara Johns. As long as you are including singers, Patsy Cline could be added to the list. Because she was born and grew up in Winchester, perhaps the Lord Fairfax folks should have chosen her name.

      Oliver Hill would have been an excellent choice for the replacement of John Tyler.

      1. DJRippert Avatar
        DJRippert

        Maggie Walker is on my list.

        Sorry to hear that Dr. Ralph Stanley died. I guess I haven’t been keeping up. That news is almost enough to make me a man of constant sorrow.

        1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
          Dick Hall-Sizemore

          I realized that I had overlooked her on your list and corrected my comment.

        2. WayneS Avatar

          RIP: June 23, 2016

    3. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Gladys West
      Howard G. Funkhouser
      William Schieffelin Claytor
      Albert Turner Bharucha-Reid

      1. DJRippert Avatar
        DJRippert

        Kanye’s mom? Or Mae’s sister?

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          I’m guessing not Mae’s immediate kin.

          How about Grace Hopper. Lived and died in Va. definitely a leader with no political issues.

          1. John Harvie Avatar
            John Harvie

            Wow! The mother of COBAL! Too bad she didn’t write FORTRAN; would probably been a better language.

            And she worked at NASA Hampton, I think.

          2. DJRippert Avatar
            DJRippert

            “I invented both COBOL and FORTRAN before I invented the Internet.”

            — Al Gore

          3. LarrytheG Avatar
            LarrytheG

            COBOL was/is primarily a business language and FORTRAN a scientific language. Both are HLLs – higher level languages.

            If you follow on here, you’ll get to how this relates to the original subject.

            What Higher Level means is that they “work” on different hardware platforms – neither will “run” as is on any platform. Both have to be converted to the machine level code for the specific machines which are different – like an IBM is not a CDC or an Apple is not an Android and a fire control system on a sub is nothing like those on an aircraft carrier, etc.

            What does all of this have to do with significant black historical figures?

            The book/movie Hidden Figures shows it.

            https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51zue32HkrL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

            Originally, women, including black women (who had degrees in Math) were used as human “computers” who did manual calculations of complex algorithms used in missiles to duplicate results and/or find errors. Often done on machines known as Marchant and Fridens.

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e7/Marchant_SilentSpeed-8D.jpg/220px-Marchant_SilentSpeed-8D.jpg
            One or the more mundane tasks was known as “interpolation” which was going into a book like this:

            https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51tNpJ-IwWL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

            and finding the number for , say, the Cosine of 31.823 and the book might have the number for 31 and 32 and to get the number for 31.823 – you have to do a manual calculation and the algorithm might have a dozen, dozens of these terms and you’d then “solve” that equation – for one altitude, then you’d have to do it all over again for the next altitutude.

            In order to do this, it would take a bunch of folks doing it. They’d often have two or three doing the same scenario to see if their answers matched and thus could be relied on when comparing to actual telemetry data.

            In the movie when the first IBM was to be installed, the women were told they’d be out of a job (because it did all of this stuff automatically) , but they found out that the IBM needed to have those algorithms programmed in FORTRAN and the women all decided they needed to be trained in FORTRAN – which in those days (in many of our lifetimes), was a tall order given black folks access to educational resources like schools and books.

            At that point in time, few educational institutions taught FORTRAN so the women had to pretty much learn by just reading books – and those books were seldom found in black-only libraries.

            There’s a scene where one of the black ladies sneaks into a white-only library to find the FORTRAN book. She is confronted by the librarian who says something like “we don’t want any trouble here” and summons a guard, but before she is tossed out, she steals a FORTRAN book in her purse and then that book becomes what the women used to learn FORTRAN and keep their jobs.

            Hidden Figures is a bit fanciful in parts but it well illustrates what black folks in Virginia had to do to obtain a decent education that would get them a good job. But what they faced in society and education was dead on correctly depicted. It was an ugly racist society.

            And this was in the sixties, and I suspect well within the lifetimes of more than a few commenters here on BR.

          4. DJRippert Avatar
            DJRippert

            Adm Dr Hopper was a bad ass. I once had one of her nanoseconds but foolishly lost it. However, calling her a Virginian would be risky. She was born in New York and educated in New England. While I’d like to honor Adm Dr Hopper, the precedent of honoring her as a Virginian would open the door to someday honoring Terry McAuliffe as a Virginian. Some risks are simply too great to accept.

          5. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            I, too, received a “nanosecond” from then CAPT Hopper. I also had lunch with her and with Garret Birkoff the next month. He was fascinated by ForTran and she by an 11 inch wire. I suppose that may be indicative of genius, the ability to find fascination in the things most take for granted.

      2. WayneS Avatar

        Howard G. Funkhouser Community College

        Now THAT is a good name.

        Of course, he was once a professor at Washington & Lee, so it’d probably be a no go…

    4. WayneS Avatar

      Patsy Cline for the “dead” list.
      Dave Matthews for the “living”

      Edit: Oops. Dick H-S already mentioned Patsy Cline. Sorry about that.

      1. DJRippert Avatar
        DJRippert

        I’m with you regarding Patsy although she was quite the diva.

        1. WayneS Avatar

          As far as musicians to name things after, I think John Jackson should be considered. He was a master of the Piedmont Blues. He was born in Rappahannock County – Woodville, I think – and lived his entire life in Virginia.

  14. WayneS Avatar

    I have a question: How much is it going to cost to change the names of all these community colleges and how many full scholarships for financially under-privileged individuals could be funded with that money?

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Less than putting “In God We Trust” decals on all of the Chesapeake City vehicles… but then, who trusts them?

  15. DJRippert Avatar
    DJRippert

    Like old-time submarines – they should be named after fish. Wahoo U.

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