Majority of speakers against renaming two Hampton schools with Confederate namesakes

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HAMPTON, Va. - The majority of people who addressed the school board on Wednesday night were against renaming two schools.

"We need to focus on the children's education, not changing the names of schools," said one.

"Education is about learning the history and teaching it, not eradicating it," said another.

The school board is considering renaming Jefferson Davis Middle School and the Campus at Lee, named after Robert E. Lee. Andrew Shannon from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference proposed renaming the schools. "Students should not be required to attend schools named for those who fought to keep a race of people in bondage," he said.

Another man, who supports renaming, called Davis and Lee traitors. "I left Hampton for 30 years. When I came back and I happened to ride by Robert E. Lee school and I was insulted," the man said. "Then, I found about Jefferson Davis. I was insulted more."

Many others say they're worried about how much renaming would cost and contend there are bigger issues to focus on in the school division. "Members of the board, I charge you with this question," said a ninth grade student at Hampton High. "Would you rather focus on the children and their education or changing a school name due to the climate of our nation?"

The school board is scheduled to hold a similar hearing on June 1 and then to make a decision later in the month.