Governor Ralph Northam is asking education leaders across the Commonwealth to change the names of schools honoring Confederate leaders.
According to a letter to school board chairs in the state, Northam says the names and mascots have a “traumatizing impact on students, families, teachers, and staff of all backgrounds.”
“When our public schools are named after individuals who advanced slavery and systemic racism, and we allow those names to remain on school property, we tacitly endorse their values as our own,” Northam wrote. “This is no longer acceptable.”
Efforts to shed Confederate names, mascots and images in schools come as the nation protests for racial justice and police reform.
Last month, the Fairfax County School Board voted to rename Robert E. Lee High School. School boards in Prince William County have also voted on similar name changes.
Statues and monuments to some of those historical figures have also been taken down.
In the letter, Governor Northam says that the financial costs of changing school names are “minimal compared to the generations that suffered through American slavery, the Confederacy, the Jim-Crow era, massive resistance, and contemporary manifestation of systemic racism, like the school to prison pipeline.”
Read Governor Northam’s full letter below: