CMS school board ready to change name of Vance High School

School board to consider renaming Vance High School

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) Board of Education is ready to fast track renaming Zebulon Vance High School.

The district has been looking at school names for a few years to see if they were appropriate.

The most offensive name school leaders say is Vance High School.

He was North Carolina governor, twice, was a Colonel in the Confederate Army and a slave owner.

Many in the community believe having his name on the school sends the wrong message.

George Dunlap was on the school board when the decision was made to name Vance High School. He was the only board member to vote against the name.

His vote had nothing to do with the name but everything to do with the process of choosing the name.

The school was named back in 1996 and the school opened in 1997.

At that time board members didn’t do their homework.

“I think we simply relied on the recommendation that was brought before us, and there was nothing that stood out to be negative or any reason why we shouldn’t name based on the recommendations,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap said Vance was initially a magnet school for students whose parents worked at IBM.

He said the concept was to have schools in the area of Vance High School be named after governors - because the place where Vance High School is located is called The Governor’s Village.

Dunlap said times have changed.

“Even though it’s a little late, it is never the wrong time to do the right thing and the right thing is to change the name of the school,” Dunlap said.

The school board is scheduled to tackle the renaming of Vance High School at its next school board meeting.

The school district is also recognizing an ugly part of history that took place on one of the school grounds.

History shows there was a lynching of a black man on the grounds of J.W. Grier Academy.

School leaders are working to get a marker placed there to let people know the district will never forget what happened on the grounds where students are now getting educated.

“You learn from your history,” CMS Diversity and Inclusion Director Chaquitha Lloyd said. “Our history folks will not tell this story - it’s important for us to know, not only US history, World history but Charlotte Mecklenburg history. It’s important to know the mistakes of the past so we do not make those same mistakes -so we don’t make those mistakes going forward in the future.”

Lloyd believes the name of the school matters and what happened on the school ground matters to students.

“Do you see me,” Lloyd said. “Do you recognize the terror that was on this land and you want to celebrate that terror repeatedly by having me attend the school.”

Going forward the question may be asked, should CMS forget naming schools after people?

That question will probably be answered by the community where the schools will be located.

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