Editor: The article, “10 Loudoun School Names Under Further Review for Possible Racist Ties,” states that a Loudoun School Board-initiated review of names of public schools, “found that none of the schools in Loudoun County were named after Confederate leaders. However, they have determined that ten schools need to have a closer look. The list includes four named for people and six named for places.”
Among those are Frances Hazel Reid and Balls Bluff Elementary Schools in Leesburg and Mercer Middle School in Aldie.
According to her bio on the Hazel Reid Elementary School web site, the late “Fannie” Reid (no relation to me) “worked with the [Loudoun Times Mirror] newspaper for 73 years and worked hard to study and preserve the history of Loudoun County. Because of her contributions to Loudoun County, our elementary school was named for her.”
However, the bio states Ms. Reid “was the charter member of the Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.” Or perhaps Ms. Reid in her 73 years as a Times Mirror reporter and editor used terms like “negro” or “colored” in her writings? I think those terms were pretty standard in American journalism into the 1970s.
So, I guess for History Matters, the Richmond firm hired by LCPS to do this review for $6,000 a month, Miss Fannie needs to be canceled for violations of current “woke” standards.
As for Balls Bluff Elementary, I don’t see what the issue is. Balls Bluff was one of the first battles of the Civil War and, yes, the Confederates won. So, are we now going to rename buildings named for Confederate victories?
I also don’t see the concern with Mercer Middle School. I believe it’s named for Charles Fenton Mercer, who was a congressman from Loudoun and who fought in the War of 1812. Wikipedia states: “He also opposed slavery and became active in the American Colonization Society, which he helped found in 1816…, and worked to establish the Free State of Liberia,” which our fifth president, James Monroe (who lived in Loudoun), made happen.
But there’s another famous Mercer in Loudoun – Margaret (1791-1846). According to this a newspaper article, Ms. Mercer was a “strong opponent of slavery … a co-founder of the African resettlement movement in Loudoun. She saw that her black employees were taught to read, write and were welcomed to worship. She raised funds for the education of young African-Americans to send them to Liberia as missionaries and settlers. “
My guess is that LCPS’ consultants believe the people who wanted to repatriate slaves to Liberia is racist by today’s woke standards, and so it’s “offensive” to have a school named for them.
It’s truly disgusting LCPS is spending $6,000 a month for a firm to do Google searches, which high schoolers could have done for free as part of a project.
Meanwhile, the test scores for Hazel Reid and Balls Bluff are not great; perhaps that $6,000 a month could go to better use, particularly to help low-achieving students, many of whom are non-white.
Better yet, let’s elect a new School Board in Loudoun in 2023 or else, no facility can bear the name of a historical figure unless they were “woke” or liberal.
Ken Reid, McLean