Henrico school board votes to change name of Byrd Middle School

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A movement has been growing to remove the name of Virginia’s foremost defender of school segregation from a Henrico County middle school, and on Thursday, school board members took action.

The Henrico County School Board voted unanimously Thursday to change the name of Byrd Middle School.

The change was spurred all by one student whose voice became the voice of many.

“I feel better knowing that I am going to leave high school with this behind me, and leaving a positive legacy on my school system,” Jordan Chapman told 8News Reporter Parker Slaybaugh.

On Thursday, Chapman saw her request become a reality with a unanimous vote from the Henrico County School Board to rename the school.

Harry F. Byrd, who served as state senator, governor and U.S. senator, was Virginia’s leading political figure from the 1920s through the 1960s.

But some parents and students, along with African-Americans who once attended segregated schools, joined Chapman in asking the school board to erase Byrd’s name from the building.

“It is Senator Byrd’s reputation as the architect of massive resistance and that he seemed to not move away from that policy during his lifetime while others did that sets him apart for me,” Chapman added.

At public meetings, name-change proponents argued that a man who fought to keep black children out of classrooms with white children should not have a school named after him. Name-change opponents say the petitioners are trying to erase history, and that Byrd reflected his times.

As for Chapman she says today’s decision, for her, reaffirms her believe in her school system.

“I’m so enthused and so excited for the future with this, it’s definitely restored my faith in Government and this county,” she said.

 

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