Fall Church City’s Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly and councilmember Letty Hardi made separate statements about their support of changing the names of George Mason High and Thomas Jefferson Elementary.
Hardi announced in her regular online newsletter last Friday that “as one of the few people of color elected to public office in Falls Church,” she favors changing the names of both schools on grounds that the Founding Fathers after whom they are named owned slaves.
Both Hardi and Connelly’s opinion bucked the results of a survey announced last week where almost three-to-one favored keeping the names.
Letty counselled that citizens should “listen to historically marginalized voices,” should “not believe we’re too good for racism in this progresssive little city,” and that a renaming “should be coupled with a commitment to meaningful anti-racism policy changes.”
Also taking a stand in favor of the name changes is F.C. Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly.
In her blog post last Friday, she wrote, “To most of us, slavery happened in the past, perpetuated by and suffered by long dead people. We fiercely reject the terrible things that were inflicted on enslaved children and families for 250 years in America. In our modern world, child abuse, family separation, rape, forced labor are horrors that we detest. And yet… that is what these men, Mason & Jefferson, symbolize to Black people who live in our community – to people who are our neighbors, friends, colleagues, and leaders. That should be enough.”
The F.C. School Board will make a vote on Dec. 8 about whether or not to change the school names.