Committee has first meeting on Paul H. Cale Elementary re-naming

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The committee that is going to help make the decision on whether or not to change the name of Paul H. Cale Elementary School had its first meeting Tuesday.

The name came under scrutiny after a 1956 article resurfaced last fall quoting Dr. Paul Cale speaking against the integration of Albemarle County Schools.

The re-naming committee spent its first meeting watching video clips presented by Lorenzo Dickerson, the web content and social media manager for Albemarle County. The videos showed the history of segregation in the county.

"I just really felt that it was important that everyone on the committee get a really good historical context, so they can really understand what was going on at that time period,” said Dickerson.

African-Americans in the videos talked about what it was like to be integrated into unwilling schools at the time.

"Fourteen of the first 26 first students to desegregate Albemarle County Schools were retained after getting good grades the entire year,” said Dickerson, “and that's something that you really never forget."

John Gray, the coordinator of the committee, said the interviews were powerful.

"There is a lot of information that we don't normally hear about and it's amazing to see the impact that it had on these adults so many years later and it still is with them,” said Gray.

The committee is reaching out to more people who lived during integration and who were part of the decision to name the school when it was built in 1990. Members also plan to speak with Cale’s family.

"We want to get a lot of input from the community and this is just a first step,” said Gray. “We're really looking forward to getting more information from everyone."

The committee has 90 days to make a recommendation to Albemarle County Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas on whether or not to change the name.

Gray said the committee is trying to be unbiased when looking at both sides of the debate.

"We're not having discussions about our feelings at this point,” said Gray. “We want to wait until the last meeting and have the full picture before we come to any conclusions."

Next month’s meeting will be a public hearing for people to give the committee their input on keeping or changing the name.

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