SCLC calls on Hampton to change school name honoring Confederate colonel

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HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — As Juneteenth celebrations happen across the commonwealth Friday, the Virginia State Unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference called on Hampton leaders to change the name of an elementary school named for a Confederate colonel.

John B. Cary Elementary school is named after Col. John Baytop Cary, a Confederate Army veteran who was the commander of the 32nd Virginia Infantry. He was also the acting provost marshal at Yorktown as an adjutant general to Confederate Gen. John Bankhead MaGruder, according to the SCLC.

“Today as our nation celebrates Juneteenth on ‘Freedom Friday’ we can not or should not rest on our present laurels without acknowledging the hatred and bigotry that African Americans were subjected to through enslavement. We must do more than sing and dance with selected amnesia of the individuals who were the leaders of oppression,” the SCLC wrote in a news release.

The SCLC is specifically asking Hampton to rename the elementary school after Dr. Mary C. Christian, Edna V. Davis or Dr. Marcellus L. Harris, Jr., all of whom are natives or residents of the City Hampton.

“We are reminded of the many who opposed our efforts in 2016 for the removal of the names of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the public school buildings in the City of Hampton. We endured vials of vitriol hatred and hostility,” the SCLC said.

“John B. Cary, a Hampton native should not be honored and glorified for the enslavement of African Americans who were owned, raped, beaten and terrorized,” the SCLC said. “… Our freedom, our hope and our dreams require the end to systemic racism and the legacies of slavery that lingers today through monuments, buildings, streets and parks.”

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