HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A day filled with celebrations across the country, people came together in honor of Juneteenth, a holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States.
In Hanover County, hundreds gathered outside the Mechanicsville Library calling for change. Amid the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, those advocating for racial justice continue to call for the renaming of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
“I definitely just want to see more acceptance and more inclusion of people of color, I don’t want them to feel invalidated when they come here,” said Madison Scalf, a 2016 graduate of Lee-Davis.
As the rain fell Friday evening, a number of counter-protesters stood tall, making an appearance in defense of the Confederate-named schools. One person told 8News if protesters don’t like the name of the schools, they should go elsewhere.
But Sharon Seifert doesn’t agree. The mother told 8News four of her kids went to Lee-Davis. It’s a fact that Seifert says, at times, is hard to admit.
“I was always embarrassed that my kids would wear the Lee-Davis sign because Davis was a traitor,” Seifert said. “You know, he never said he was wrong.”
Last year, the NAACP sued Hanover County and its school board over the schools named after Confederate leaders, arguing that the names and their mascots violated the rights of African-American students by forcing them to “champion a legacy of segregation and oppression in order to participate in school activities.”
Hanover NAACP President Robert Barnette weighed in, telling 8News, “we have African-American faculty and students entering those buildings every day and they don’t feel welcome.”
The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in May, but Barnette says the NAACP is in the process of appealing that decision.