Community Perspective: Change the name of Turner Ashby High School

As alumni of Turner Ashby High School, we believe that the name of the school should be changed for the following reasons:

Claiming Confederate history as the only true Southern history erases many of its residents

What do the White House, the University of Virginia, Fort Sumter, Mount Vernon, and Harvard Law School all have in common? These buildings, along with countless others, were built by slaves.

The South would not be what it is without past and continued contributions from the black community, from its infrastructure to its culture. Claiming that honoring the Confederacy is about “heritage, not hate” excludes black Southerners from the heritage of the very place that they have lived for centuries and helped build brick by brick.

The Confederacy lasted only five years, but black people have been an integral part of Virginia’s history and culture since before the United States of America was a country.

Some history is best remembered in museums and textbooks

The Civil War was an important event in American history that changed our trajectory as a country, and it will always be remembered. There will likely never be an American history course taught in school without the Civil War on its curriculum. Renaming schools and removing monuments will not change that — it simply moves it to be remembered and contextualized in museums, history books, documentaries, and classrooms. Wars are rarely forgotten, and remembering them does not require glorifying or honoring the people who fought for the ownership, enslavement, and brutality of other people. There is a lot of Southern culture of which to be proud that does not involve this problematic chapter in history.

The school was not named to honor Turner Ashby, but to honor segregation

Turner Ashby High School was named in 1955, months after Brown vs. Board of Education and as schools throughout the South prepared to desegregate. During that time period there was a wave of schools being named after Confederates and Confederate monuments being erected in public places, as a way to push back against the inevitable desegregation. The name of the school is not only a reminder of the dark period of the Confederacy, but also the dark period of resistance against desegregation.

Before the Civil War, Turner Ashby was a vigilante who used mobs to intimidate and commit violence against his neighbors. During the war, he was disliked by Stonewall Jackson, who thought he lacked discipline and resisted promoting him. Who Turner Ashby was as a person–as a slaveholder, as a Confederate–is not and should not be a part of the culture or identity of Turner Ashby High School. Changing the school’s name is not losing a central figure that is important to the school’s mission. Instead, changing the name will reflect the school’s true values of providing a quality education and welcoming environment to all its students, regardless of their race or background.

Caroline Swicegood (class of 2003)Christopher Bennett (class of 2000)
Heather Cline (Class of 1996)Adam Friend (Class of 2002)
Richard Zane (class of 1997)Elizabeth Stover (Class of 1999)
Sarah Mies (class of 1996)Claire Stover Henry (Class of 2001)
Annie Foster (class of 2002)Martha Stover Barlow (Class of 1965)
Randi Clark (Class of 1999)Katie Mishler (class of 2002)
Ansley Davenport (class of 2003)Blake Cramer (class of 2003)
Julie Diehl (class of 2002)Jesse Stover (Class of 1997)
Douglas Alan Diehl (class of 2003)Matthew Eaton (Class of 1997)
Jonathan Nicholas (class of 2011)Taylor Metzler (Class of 2016)
Kristen Weaver (class of 1997)Lauren Dollins (Class of 2016)
Korey Miller (class of 2003)Jessie Houff (Class of 2009)
Doug Little (class of 1996)Meg Oldman (Class of 2004)
Lindsay Estes Li (class of 1999)Megan Liskey (Class of 2008)
Claire Foster Quinn (Class of 2000)Amanda Zepp (Class of 1997)
Lauren Davis (Class of 2009)Anna Kern (Class of 2008)
Katie Houff (Class of 2006)Mary Kern (Class of 2011)
Chaz Weaver (Class of 1993)Twyla Butler (Class of 2006)
Lois Brown Horne (Class of 1965)Heather Eberly (Class of 1995)
Whitney Thompson (Class of 1999)Adam Smith (Class of 1990)
April Pastucha (Class of 1999)Bunny Spangler Turner (Class of 1965)
Erica Simmons Ward (Class of 1996)Philip Bly (Class of 1991)
Virginia Moore (Class of 2009)Sarah Perrin (Class of 2004)
Kristin Burkholder (Class of 1997)Rev. Tamara Torres McGovern (Class of 1997)
Dan Easley (Class of 1996)Allison Byers (Class of 2020)
Lydia Hanson (Class of 2014)Lauren Estes (Class of 2020) 
Jamee Eriksen (Class of 1999)Rob Seal (Class of 1999)
Wendy E. H. Corbett (Class of 1997)Jessica Koblish (Class of 1997)
Spencer Gallon (Class of 2021)Brian Weaver (Class of 2002)
Whitney Meyerhoeffer (Class of 2002)Keith David Parsons (Class of 2000)
Sarah Phillips (Class of 2018)Stacy Escobar (Class of 1997)
Benjamin Neher (Class of 2019)Jack Brandt (Class of 1997)
Erick Zaldivar (Class of 2010)Jason Propst (Class of 2014)
Tiffany Morris (Class of 2001)Dan Reif (Class of 2001)
Holly Showalter (Class of 2000)Cevaun Jones (Class of 2018)
Sandra Rhodes Collins (Class of 1971)Kam Tembo (Class of 2003)
Silas Bright (Class of 2020)Kelly Rohrer (Class of 2016)
Nikita Lyaskovskiy (Class of 2017)Linda Andes-Georges (Class of 1965)
Katie McElroy (Class of 2016)Kahlil Detrich (Class of 1999)
Garth Mills (Class of 1999)Chardin Detrich (Class of 2004)
Tara Tschudi (Class of 1996)Cole Swortzel (Class of 2020)
Sara Willard (Class of 2007)Cheryl Martin Poston (Class of 1997)
Kajsa Svarfvar (Class of 1985)Charlie Wilfong (Class of 2001)
Casey Schroen (Class of 2000)Lyric Updike (Class of 2016) 
Joel Arellano (Class of 2010)Mark Wilkinson (Class of 2002)
Carrie Gray (Class of 1996)Margaret Newman (Class of 2016)
Sally Pinckney (Class of 1994)Ross Powell (Class of 2002)
Elizabeth Cutler (Class of 2001)Jennifer Davis Wilson (Class of 2000)
Bernard Bowman (Class of Elisabeth Jerome (Class of 1999)
Miriam McNamara (Class of 2001)Julie Foley Hart (Class of 2000)
Tracy Smith (Class of 1991)Joseph M. Crockett III (Class of 2000)
Leroy Flaten (Class of 2000)Shelly Cochrane (Class of 2014)
Ella Kasten (Class of 2016)Brian Cohee (Class of 2000)
Eduardo Robles (Class of 2010)Luke Sanger (Class of 2010)
Sarah Meadows (Class of 1996)Elisabett Dattolo (Class of 2012)
Catharine “Katie” Kreutzer (Class of 2002)Irene Dattolo (Class of 2009)
Robbie Miller (Class of 1975)Sarah Ali (Class of 2002)
Wendy Knight
Leah Pence (Class of 2002)
Molly Miracle (Class of 1996)
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