ETTRICK, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia State University is parting ways with Confederate leaders and those who opposed integrating schools.
VSU announced Thursday that it will change the names of at least four buildings on campus because they’re named after people who administrators say don’t honor the school’s legacy. It comes at a time when Confederate monuments and statues are coming down, school names are being changed and now the local Historically Black College and University says it’s time for it to follow suit.
As a statue of former Virginia Governor Harry Byrd is slated to be removed from the State Capitol, VSU is also cutting ties.
“He was a segregationist. He fought against Brown vs. the Board of Education,” VSU Vice-President Tonya Hall said.
Yet for years, his name adorned a female dormitory at Virginia State - until now. In fact, bare black poles at four different buildings are the only semblance of what once was.
“It is a reconciling,” Hall added.
She says the school is now renaming buildings that paid tribute to not only Byrd but also educator Joseph Eggleston, Confederate Army Captain Charles Vawter and former Virginia Governor Elbert Trinkle.
“He said whiteness was defined by if you had one drop of Black blood in you, then you were considered Black. You weren’t considered white,” Hall says of Trinkle.
“I think it’s a good change for the university…It shows the school is changing, atmosphere is changing, just like the culture is changing,” Michael Perry said.
“Black lives matter more than ever now, more than it did back then, so I think that’s a good investment. It won’t be a waste of money,” Jahla Mercer-Smith added.
Now students, as well as faculty and alumni, will join forces to reimagine who those four buildings should pay tribute for this historic university’s next chapter.
“In their time, in their day and age, they were the scions. They were the people to look up to. This is different. That’s the past and this is the present,” Hall said.
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