NAACP sues Hanover County schools over Confederate School names

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Hanover County Branch NAACP President, Roberty Barnette spoke to dozens outside the steps of the Hanover County Government Center Tuesday afternoon in regards to changing the name of Lee Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

The Hanover County NAACP  filed a lawsuit against Hanover County and County's school board, over its use of Confederate names and imagery at both Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

"Filing this lawsuit was just one of the strategies that we had in our tool kit, that we had talked about," Barnette said.

The Hanover County NAACP has asked the United States District Court Eastern District of Virginia to consider its case.

Barnette said the names of the two schools deny African American students equal education, and that the school and mascot names, 'Lee Davis Confederates' and 'Stonewall Jackson Rebels', violate the first and fourteenth amendment rights of students.

"Think about what African Americans go through when they're called confederates," said Barnette. "It tends to bullying really, that's what it feels like."

After the Charlottesville riot in 2017, there was a push to change the schools names, but a survey revealed 75 percent of Hanover County wanted to keep the names and the school board voted in 2018 to do just that.

"Students and alumni of Lee Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School, along with their families and communities have been urging Hanover County School Board to change these names for decades," said Barnette.

Barnette also said the branch is willing to meet with the board of supervisors and school board.

"If the school system or board of supervisors want to talk, we’re open to that as well," said Barnette. "The door is not closed.”

When asked for a response to the lawsuit, Hanover County spokesperson Tom Harris and Hanover County School Board Chairman Roger Bourassa said the county could not comment on pending litigation.

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