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CMS Will Strip Segregationist Governor's Name From Vance High

Zebulon Vance High School in northeast Charlotte
Zebulon Vance High School in northeast Charlotte

Zebulon Vance was a Confederate general, a slaveholder, a North Carolina governor and a U.S. senator -- but he won't be the namesake for a Charlotte-Mecklenburg high school much longer.

Zebulon Vance High School in northeast Charlotte
Credit CMS
Zebulon Vance High School in northeast Charlotte

CMS board Chair Elyse Dashew posted on Facebook Wednesday that the board will take up plans to rename Vance High at its Tuesday meeting. 

"It is time for a new name for Zebulon B. Vance High School. Beyond time, in fact," Dashew wrote.

A majority of board members told WFAE they support renaming the school.

Dashew shared a link toa piecewritten by CMS teacher and education blogger Justin Parmenter, which dubs Vance "North Carolina's favorite white supremacist" and details his history of owning enslaved people, resisting racial integration and disparaging African Americans.

The move to rename Vance High comes amid a national outcry over police brutality and deep-seated racism. Across the nation, there's a push to remove Confederate monuments and rename public facilities honoring white supremacists.

Zebulon Vance
Credit Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Zebulon Vance

Vance opened in 1997 as part of the "Governors' Village" cluster of schools in the UNC Charlotte area of northeast Charlotte. That campus included James Martin MIddle School and elementary schools named for John M. Morehead and Nathaniel Alexander. Morehead and Alexander were recently merged to form Governors' Village STEM Academy, a K-8 school.

Vance High's enrollment the past school year was 58% black, 34% Hispanic, 3% white and 2% Asian.

Dashew's post says the board plans to review the names of other school buildings and to launch a renaming process for Vance that will include the community.

"Renaming a school is symbolic. Symbols are important," Dashew wrote. "But SYMBOLS must be followed up with ACTION — to reduce inequities, opportunity gaps, and racism." 

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Copyright 2020 WFAE

Ann Doss Helms covers education for WFAE. She was a reporter for The Charlotte Observer for 32 years, including 16 years on the education beat. She has repeatedly won first place in education reporting from the North Carolina Press Association and won the 2015 Associated Press Senator Sam Open Government Award for reporting on charter school salaries.