- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 15, 2003

RICHMOND (AP) — Central Virginia Boy Scout leaders have decided to drop Robert E. Lee’s name from the title of their regional council, prompting protests from Confederate heritage supporters.

The executive board voted unanimously Thursday to change the group’s name to the Heart of Virginia Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The organization serves 22,000 Scouts and 7,500 leaders.

About a dozen Lee supporters carrying Confederate flags and portraits of the general stood outside the council’s headquarters to protest the board’s decision. But the Virginia director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People praised the decision, saying it would lead to more minority recruitment.

The 70-member board’s action follows its decision in May to drop the Confederate general’s name from the council’s title and logo. Lee’s name had been used to identify the council since 1942.

In selecting Heart of Virginia, the executive board adopted the recommendation of an advisory panel that considered dozens of names it felt would more suitably describe the council’s geographical location. Scout executives hope the change will help improve marketing efforts in the region.

Scout officials said the Robert E. Lee Council was one of the few organizations in the country whose name didn’t denote its geographical location.

In Hampton Roads, for example, the local Scout organization is known as the Tidewater Council. In Kansas City, Mo., it’s called the Heart of America Council.

Dropping Lee’s name will not require Scouts to strip off their council patches bearing his name. A new shoulder patch with the Heart of Virginia logo won’t be available for several weeks, and the “old patches will continue to be available as long as we have them,” said Scout Executive Robert “Alf” Tuggle.

Wally Sprouse, cubmaster of Pack 868 in Chesterfield County, said the name change initially bothered him. But he said he softened his view after hearing the council’s explanations.

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