A CMS School, Named After A Confederate Officer And Slave Owner, Is Expected To Be Renamed

CHARLOTTE, NC. — For more than two decades, a high school on IBM Dr. in University City has been named after Zebulon B. Vance. The Governor, Congressman and US Senator also served as a Confederate officer and owned slaves. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education will announce plans to change the name Tuesday night.

“We are at a point in history right now where there’s a lot of momentum, sort of an inflection point, to really take a deep look at where racism and bigotry still exist in our society. Including in our schools. That means changing the name of the school, that’s one action, that’s one step that we can take,” says CMS Board of Education chair Elyse Dashew.

Dashew says the principal will put a committee together made up of students, teachers, families and alumni. The committee will make recommendations for a new name, and the school board will vote.

“It’s just important to have community input. It’s not something that the school board unilaterally does.”

Daniel Vicario teaches at Vance. He raised the issue to district leaders a few weeks ago. He says the name change is a good first step.

“I know there’s a lot of schools in CMS that are very integrated and very diverse. Vance is not one of them. I think it needs to go beyond just changing the name because we’re still honoring his legacy if we don’t actually implement policies that make our education system more equitable,” says Vicario.

Marisha Avery started a petition Monday.  It has more than 800 signatures.  Avery doesn’t have children at Vance, but has two young kids.

“I don’t want them to grow up in a world where they have to go to a school or anything that was named after anybody oppressive,” says Avery.

Dashew says she’s asking Superintendent Earnest Winston to pull together an overview of all CMS equity initiatives and all the anti-racism initiatives that are going on in the district. She says the board will also review the names of other schools in the district.

There has been some opposition to the name change on social media.