CMS Board starts renaming process of high school named after Confederate military officer

Updated: Jun. 23, 2020 at 11:28 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board officially says they have started the process to rename Zebulon B. Vance High School in University City.

It was announced last week that school officials would consider renaming the high school that is named after a Confederate military officer. The district will also look at potentially renaming other schools.

Zebulon Baird Vance, who died in 1894, was a North Carolina representative, governor, and senator during the American Civil War and Reconstruction eras.

During the Civil War, Vance sided with the Confederacy and organized his own company of troops. According to the University of North Carolina’s Museum of University History, Vance left the army in 1862 and served for the rest of the war as governor of North Carolina.

CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston says they want all students to feel comfortable and they’re launching a process to review/rename school names that might “glorify a painful or racist past”.

Winston goes on to say that any CMS school or building that has a name that might relate to slavery, express racist views, fought against equality or demonstrated views counter to the values CMS holds - would fall into the category of being reviewed/renamed.

The school superintendent says these efforts are important steps in the right direction. In July, the board will be sharing a list of more specific actions they’ll be taking to make sure equitable experiences are happening throughout CMS.

School board chair Elyse Dashew posted about the potential name change on Facebook last week. Dashew says at the CMS Board meeting on Tuesday, June 23, officials will be announcing plans to rename the school.

“It is time for a new name for Zebulon B. Vance High School. Beyond time, in fact,” Dashew said.

Dashew says the school community will have a voice in determining the new name. She left two links to the policies that guide the renaming process. Click here for the Board Policy for naming of schools and click here for regulation for naming schools.

The school board chair says CMS needs to review the names of other school buildings in the school district as well. She says looks forward to leaning into the process with historians and with school communities.

“Renaming a school is symbolic. Symbols are important. But SYMBOLS must be followed up with ACTION — to reduce inequities, opportunity gaps, and racism. To promote belonging and inclusiveness and to build an environment where all children can and do excel. I am committed to action, and hope you are committed too, even when it is very difficult. This is one step in a long journey,” Dashew said.

It is time for a new name for Zebulon B. Vance High School. Beyond time, in fact. At the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board...

Posted by Elyse Dashew, CMS Board of Education, At Large on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The school board would have to convene a naming committee before changing the school’s name.

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