Virginia Colleges Get Name Changes To Rid Affiliation To Historic Slave Owners

Three Virginia community colleges are changing their names in a modern effort to remove ties to historical figures that owned slaves.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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Virginia community colleges

Three Virginia community colleges are changing their names. This is in a modern effort to rid schools of ties to historical figures who owned slaves or supported segregation efforts. Across the nation various schools have changed their names, even going so far as to remove the title of their own founders.

The new move comes after the Virginia community college state board met to discuss the matter last Thursday. The schools in question were: Patrick Henry Community College, Lord Fairfax Community College, and John Tyler Community College. Each historical figure played prominent roles in American history, but because they were slave owners, and President John Tyler advocated for segregation after the civil war, their names have been stripped from these educational institutes. 

Patrick Henry has been quoted throughout history. He was Virginia’s first Governor. During his most famous speech, he coined the phrase, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Now the state of Virginia’s community colleges are focused on promoting liberty by being inclusive to all American students and putting honors to past slave owners to death.

In order to keep the community unified, the Virginia Patrick Henry Community College is slightly shifting its name to Patrick & Henry Community College. School officials are claiming that the school was originally named after these two different counties. Whether or not the public believes that is uncertain. 

Lord Fairfax Community College is being renamed Laurel Ridge Community College, and John Tyler Community College will now be called Brightpoint Community College. The Brightpoint title was chosen to provide students with an upbeat and welcoming name. Regardless, these Virginia community college updates can take up to a year or more to fully take effect as signage and all merchandise and memorabilia have to now be changed. 

This approach has received mixed reviews over the years. While many young students have been taught to believe that history should only highlight figures who were not racist, the concept of racism harming others was not considered by generations past and some historians warn that vilifying history does not change it. But as times change so do public institutions like these Virginia community colleges, and student-driven efforts must be considered.  

Virginia community colleges

School names are not the only titles being considered for changes. For years now a growing movement to change the names of supposed racist sports mascots has gained support. Various schools have recently been awarded funding to change mascots which depict Native Americans in an offensive light. This erasure of Native American caricatures is being applauded by many and much less controversial being that sports mascots hold less meaning than the names of educational institutions, like the Virginia community colleges. 

Whether these updates will raise tuition costs has yet to be released. For now, Virginia community college students are embarking on the 2022-2023 school year with the traditional namesakes. Future classes will witness the changes and be expected to adapt to them in time in order to remove mention of historical figures who led the area and even the nation, due to their support of slavery while it was a legal practice.