Once again, we come to a time in the history of Hanover County where we can choose to move forward or continue to live within the impenetrable “legacy” thought process. What is that legacy?
If you look strictly at one segment of the population it appears that legacy means continually celebrating the history of the losers of the Civil War: the Confederacy. It appears that they forget that the Confederacy lost the war.
Another aspect of the population wants to move forward with a united Hanover where all are celebrated and where we can celebrate as the Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . .” We want to create a NEW Hanover legacy of justice and equality for all.
And yet, we witness a Ku Klux Klan rally staged to gain membership in front of OUR Hanover Courthouse. Why would they feel comfortable enough to come to Hanover to do this? Would it have anything to do with the “rumble in the jungle” of the 97th District of the Republican Party where the man who stood up to help those of lesser means in his district was tossed out of office and replaced with a commander of one of the six local Confederate groups in Hanover?
Were they aware of the tossing off the board of Earl Hunter Jr., an African-American with no reason for his dismissal and said that is our kind of town.
Even more recently, they witnessed the dismissal of Marla Coleman who made one mistake in their estimation -- she voted for a change in the names of the Confederate name schools. After all, she was representing all people.
Perhaps they followed the story of the tossing of Dr. Kevin Washington and his wife from a “town hall” meeting of the NRA and the GOP. They were the only two people of color in attendance as Dr. Washington went to become informed on the NRA stance in his bid for the seat in the 97th District.
Dr. Washington wants to represent all citizens. Would it have to do with well-qualified candidates of color continually applying for a seat on the Hanover County School Board and not being appointed?
Most recently, one of the Hanover County Board of Supervisors members admitted Rev. Scott Bray had great qualifications as candidate, but how many times, how many years have we heard that?
Nah, we can’t put you here but look, we’ll give you this instead.
Rev. Bray, it was reported, was assured he’d get another appointment soon. Would it have to do with the overwhelming support they see of our board of supervisors as they refuse to do anything to change the names of the two schools in Hanover County that still carry the names of the losing generals of the Civil Wars Lee Davis and Stonewall Jackson?
Throughout the country there are less than 100 schools that still carry the name of Confederate generals, they are mostly in the Deep South.
Virginia has started moving toward being a state for all people and now has only 13 schools still carrying the names of the Confederate generals.
Yet, Hanover, in its infinite wisdom, has the distinction of having two schools still named after these generals. The Board of Supervisors would have you believe they left the decision up to the citizens of Hanover. They knew the result before the vote because of the reputation Hanover has.
They know the percentage of minorities in Hanover and knew they could depend on the people of Hanover not taking into consideration the feelings of minorities as they decided to stick with their legacy -- a legacy of schools honoring the losers of the Confederate war. WHY? They could dismantle this controversial issue and bring Hanover together as a place for ALL people with one positive decision. CHANGE THE SCHOOL NAMES. Get us off the news cycle on TV and in the newspapers, where we are reported to continue living in the past. We made not only The Mechanicsville local, the Roanoke paper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Washington Post.
Hanover wonders why they have a hard time getting teachers/administrators of color in our schools. It is hard to find a person of color willing to put up with what they know they will face in schools that profess their legacy so blatantly.
When will this Board of Supervisors decide to do the right thing for ALL people? If they can’t make that decision, it is time for the good people of Hanover to decide we need new blood, a board that sees clearly the future and not the past.
We need to vote to have an elected school board -- a school board that represents all of the people of Hanover County.
I don’t want my grandchildren living in a place where the KKK feels comfortable coming for the recruitment of new members. My family has been in Hanover County as long as any of the families of the board of supervisors.
Don’t we, the minority citizens, deserve some consideration? After all, we were on the right side of history.
And as we looked for a rebuke of the actions of this group, all we got was a shallow response from the chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “I 100% support citizens of this community and country being able to express their opinions — as long as they do it peacefully,” said W. [Canova] Peterson, while noting that he disagrees with those who appeared at the rally on Saturday. “There’s a lot of people who disagree with me, but I’m not going to try and shut them down.”
Editor’s Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the July 16th edition of the Hanover-Mechanicsville section of the Richmond Times Dispatch, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
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