Prince William County Supervisor Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, now hopes to change the monikers of a whole host of county roadways and buildings named for Confederate leaders, as elected officials continue to mull ways to respond to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville last month.Principi announced a series of proposals at the Board of County Supervisors’ Sept. 5 meeting, all of which he hopes can “combat the hate, bigotry and racism” on display during the “Unite the Right” rally in the Central Virginia city last month.While county supervisors are limited in the actions they can take unilaterally on Confederate symbols in Prince William, Principi is putting forward a three-pronged effort. Specifically, he’s calling for his board to push for the renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway (commonly known as U.S. 1), the Stonewall Jackson Volunteer Fire Department and the county middle and high schools similarly named for the Confederate general.Principi’s new push dovetails with prior calls by school board Chairman Ryan Sawyers to rename the Stonewall schools, and will undoubtedly provoke fierce debate among the rest of the supervisors — At-Large Chairman Corey Stewart, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018, has been a particularly vocal opponent of efforts to remove Confederate monuments and symbols around the state.But Principi believes this effort is worth all the potential acrimony for how it might honor Prince William’s diversity and status as the first majority-minority county in the entire state.“I don’t believe it is appropriate to glorify what was a very dark and difficult time in this county, one where an entire race was subjugated,” Principi said. “I believe words and names carry great weight and can cause significant pain, and I don’t think continuing to repeat those names is the right thing to do.”
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