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Schools in One Virginia County to Reinstate Confederate Names

After a meeting that lasted for hours, the Shenandoah County school board voted early Friday morning to restore the names of three Confederate officers to schools in the district.

With the vote, the district appears to be the first in the country to return Confederate names to schools that had removed them after the summer of 2020, according to researchers at the Montgomery, Ala.-based Equal Justice Initiative.

The vote rolled back a decision made four years ago, when the killing of George Floyd prompted nationwide demands for a racial reckoning. At a virtual meeting in July 2020, the summer of pandemic and protests, the board voted 5-1 to drop the names of two schools — Ashby-Lee Elementary and Stonewall Jackson High — that it deemed incompatible with a recently passed resolution condemning racism. The schools were renamed the next year as Honey Run and Mountain View.

But a fury had been unleashed in the rural county in the mountains of Virginia. People crowded into school board meetings, denouncing the name changes as secretive and rushed through with little advance notice, and voicing deeper resentments about cultural shifts they saw as being foisted upon them.

After a revote ended in a tie in 2022, the name changes stood. But opponents swore that Stonewall Jackson would be revived. And on Friday, he was.

“When you read about this man — who he was, what he stood for, his character, his loyalty, his leadership, how Godly a man he was — those standards that he had were much higher than any leadership of the school system in 2020,” said Tom Streett, one the board members. Then he and four of his five colleagues voted to bring Jackson and the other names back.

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