Joint Statement Calling on the Henrico County School Board to Rename Harry F. Byrd Middle School
Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. was a lifelong segregationist and an ardent proponent of Jim Crow laws. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, Harry F. Byrd defied the Court with the policy of Massive Resistance. Vowing that black children in Virginia would never attend public schools with whites, he systematically closed every school throughout Virginia that was subject to court-ordered desegregation.
White students were provided state-subsidized tuition assistance to attend segregated private schools, while thousands of poor black children throughout Virginia were deprived of any public education for years.
Continuing to name a taxpayer-funded middle school in honor of the architect of Massive Resistance is an affront to Henrico County’s African-American community, which constitutes 22% of Henrico County’s population and 36% of Henrico County’s public school students. Indeed, continuing to name a public school after Harry F. Byrd Sr. is an affront to all people of good will dedicated to the ideals of racial harmony and inclusiveness.
No child should be forced to attend a public school named in honor of the man who systematically deprived public education to thousands of black children. We, the undersigned, call upon the Henrico County School Board to rename Harry F. Byrd Middle School.
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