HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The Henrico County School Board voted for to change the name of Byrd Middle School at a meeting Thursday to Quicoccasin MIddle School after much debate.
In what clearly was not an easy decision for the board, two board members told the crowd their top choice was Vandervall, a name that belongs to African American family who used to own land school sits on.
In fact the board's only African American member, Roscoe Cooper, abstained from the vote because he wanted Vandervall.
However, all the other board members voted in favor of Quioccasin because many said it was too hard to pick a person, so they went with a geographical place that has historical significance in the area.
A member of the Vandervall family said that while she is disappointed, she is satisfied with the final choice. That is because Quioccasin still incorporates African American history since was the name of a small African American village in the area.
“I think it’s important because it shows that African Americans were an important part of the community…,” said Chaldea Montague, a member of the Vandervall family. “They promoted education, as I see it. They were professionals, they were great educators in the neighborhood and it’s just important to show that history.”
However, the controversy is not totally over. Several people who showed up at the meeting said they want to make sure the new name is put on athletic uniforms and in the school's online library immediately.
A school spokesperson said the board is currently working with the school to work something out.
Harry F. Byrd Middle School opened in Henrico's West End in 1971. The school is named after the former United States Senator and Virginia Governor who, among other things, fought to keep Virginia schools segregated.
In addition, when the school opened in 1971, Harry F. Byrd’s son, Harry Jr., voiced his displeasure with the school being integrated.
Earlier this year, the Board agreed to change the name after a grassroots effort convinced members having a school named after a man who supported school segregation was not appropriate.
The county asked the community to submit their choices for the school's new name. Educators, influencers and inspirational figures highlighted the list of names Henrico County Public Schools received as suggestions.