On September 5, 2017, I introduced a resolution condemning the violent acts in Charlottesville, VA on Aug. 12, 2017 and supporting the renaming of confederate symbols in Prince William County (read the full text). The Board of County Supervisors will vote on the resolution at the 7:30 pm Oct. 3 meeting. As always, the public is encouraged to comment during Citizen’s Time.
My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the families of Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates of the Virginia State Police, and Heather Heyer, all of whom lost their lives that day. I have spent considerable time contemplating my role as an elected official in helping in our healing, and how together we can combat hate, bigotry and racism. These thoughts led to my talking with hundreds of people and spending time in prayer to carefully consider what role that Prince William County can play.
The resulting resolution reflects the efforts of many, and I am appreciative of the time and consideration that they invested to work with me. This resolution acknowledges our reality: that Prince William County is a diverse community and the first majority-minority community in Virginia. It also harkens to a fundamental point in the 2030 Future Report, that we leverage our diversity for the betterment of all, and recognizes the importance of diversity in the phrase “A Community of Choice.”
As a student of history, I recognize that words and names carry great weight and can cause significant pain. Further, I do not believe that continuing to repeat those names and what they represent is an antiseptic. Teaching and remembering history is a laudable, and necessary, pursuit. However, glorifying its darker chapters serves to keep old wounds open, rather than enabling us to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Central to the resolution are steps that would facilitate the renaming of:
- The section of Jefferson Davis Highway/Route 1 in Woodbridge, which requires an act by the Virginia General Assembly,
- Stonewall Jackson Volunteer Fire & Rescue House
- Stonewall Jackson High School
I hope that you will join with me in supporting this resolution, which will be put to vote on October 3, 2017. Attend the BOCS meeting to be part of the discussion during Citizen’s Time. While it is important that we remember our history, enshrining it in history books and museums, it is not appropriate to celebrate a very dark and difficult time in this County by naming landmarks and government buildings after the people who fought to maintain the South’s “peculiar institution” that stripped people of their rights and dignity in the name of economic gain and tradition.
Remember the mistakes of the past, yes. Celebrate? No longer. This is the path to a brighter, unified future for our County.