Virginia School Board Wants to Roll the Clock Back

Virginia residents make public comments before the school board voted to restore the previously removed Confederate names of schools. (Source: Hockstein/Reuters)

This month in Virginia, Shenandoah County’s school board began to roll back the symbolic gains of the 2020 George Floyd protests. The conservative board ruled 5-1 to rename two schools back to the names of Confederate military leaders: Mountain View High School as Stonewall Jackson High School and Honey Run Elementary as Ashby Lee Elementary.

The original name change was part of the shabby efforts by school systems across the South to reconcile the South’s racist past due to pressure from the massive Black Lives Matter demonstrations. With the end of people in the streets, and the absorption of the movement by the Democratic Party, the right wing is seizing the chance to reverse even this progress. Conservative groups argue that the names should be reversed to commemorate Virginia’s so-called history and culture. In reality, the right wing wants to reinforce a status quo of racism and oppression that celebrates oppressors. The case in Virginia is not isolated. It forms part of conservative attacks on education nationwide, seen notably in widespread book bans. Changing the names of schools named after known racists is important, but clearly not enough to confront the entrenched racism and oppression that is part of capitalist society everywhere.