- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Dozens of people attended the first of two public input sessions to discuss the possibility of renaming Harry F. Byrd Middle School in Richmond.

According to local media outlets, Wednesday’s meeting was a result of a push from parents and students to remove Byrd’s name from the school. Byrd was a politician who opposed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end school segregation.

Those in favor of the name change accused Byrd of racism and argued that he prevented people from getting an education.

“Harry F. Byrd stood in the way of education by closing down schools,” Jordan Chapman, a Hermitage High School student who circulated a petition in favor of renaming the school, said. “A school should not be named after someone who stood in the way of education. … Would you name a prison after a criminal or a park after a logging company?”

However, opponents of the name change argued if the change is approved for the middle school, then other names would have to follow.

“If we start changing names because one part of a person’s life is offensive to someone, and they are not judged in the historical context of their time, then this board must be prepared to start changing some other names as well,” said Andy Washington.

The name of the school was picked in 1966 as actions to thwart desegregation failed. Recently, schools officials estimated a $136,000 price tag for new signs and other items if the name is changed.

The board will hold another public meeting on March 8.

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