Motion to change Albemarle elementary school name due to racist history

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The chair of the Albemarle County School Board put in a motion at a Thursday meeting of the county Board of Supervisors to rethink the name of Paul Cale Elementary School because it was named after someone with a racist past.

Cale Elementary was named after Dr. Paul Cale, who was the county's longest-serving superintendent, but his racist history may have been overlooked when the school was built in 1990.

In an article from Commentary Magazine in 1956, Cale is quoted saying, "White parents would not permit their children to receive instruction from inferior Negro teachers—and they were inferior."

This was during a time when Albemarle County was resisting the move to desegregate public schools.

Acuff said now that she knows the history, it should be addressed.

"I would suspect that many of the children who are now at Cale Elementary School are completely unaware of Paul Cale and the history of Paul Cale. But I was concerned enough that I think we really do need to look at it," said Acuff. "It does say something to the community. It does say something certainly once you become aware of the history."

Acuff's motion came after a presentation led by local filmmaker, Lorenzo Dickerson, on the history of the desegregation of Albemarle schools. The presentation and Acuff both point out that Cale Elementary is not the only name that should be changed.

Alexis Mason, a parent attending the meeting, said that the presentation and motion are a step in the right direction for the school board.

"I think that's it's in keeping with the direction that the school board and many other communities around our nation are really engaged in," said Mason.

Matthew Christensen, a member of the Hate Free School Coalition, said a motion like this should not stop at Cale Elementary.

"Who we decide to honor and how we decide to honor them, I think that's important with looking at the names of our schools, looking at the monuments in our community," said Christensen. "And what we teach in our schools and how we address things as a community."

Other board members were widely in agreement with Acuff's motion.

The motion to review school name changes has been moved to the consent agenda for next Thursday where the board will vote on it.

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