Supervisors Sack School Official Who Defied Constituents and Voted to Remove Confederate Names
A Virginia school board official who made news for voting to rename schools honoring Confederate generals has lost her seat, according to The Associated Press.
Hanover County School Board member Marla Coleman, who represents the Henry District, was voted out unanimously Wednesday by the county’s Board of Supervisors, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
In an April 2018 motion, Coleman and colleague Ola Hawkins voted to change the names of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School The other five school board members voted to keep the names, defeating the motion.
Three out of four voters in Hanover County — in which school board members are appointed by the board of supervisors — were against the change.
In Coleman’s Henry District, 83 percent of voters disapproved of the name change.
“Our democracy does not say we can never listen to the people who will never be the majority,” Coleman said during the debate over the issue last year.
According to the board of supervisors, Coleman’s ouster had nothing to do with her unpopular position.
“I make decisions based on qualifications — not politics,” Sean Davis, who represents the Henry District on the county’s Board of Supervisors, told the Times-Dispatch.
“I’ve never told her how to vote. I don’t interfere with any of that,” Davis said.
Though an appointed school board member may be in a position to ignore her voters, those who appoint her are not. Supervisors like Davis are accountable to the electorate. But that doesn’t exempt Davis from media scrutiny; as the Times-Dispatch tweeted, Coleman “was sacrificed at the altar of political expediency by a supervisor up for re-election in a county fiercely attached to its Confederate heritage.”
Outgoing Hanover School Board member Marla Coleman – apparently – was sacrificed at the altar of political expediency by a supervisor up for re-election in a county fiercely attached to its Confederate heritage. https://t.co/LWeKwAxqxa
— Times-Dispatch (@RTDNEWS) June 28, 2019
Most Americans, however, and not just the ones in Southern counties “fiercely attached to [their] Confederate heritage,” still don’t feel that Confederate statues and memorials should be removed.
At the height of the Confederate statue controversy two summers ago, almost every poll found that Americans generally opposed removing the statues — most by a majority.
An August 23, 2017 HuffPost article collected seven different surveys of Americans on the subject, only one of which — by the left-of-center Public Policy Polling — found more support for removing the monuments than keeping them. And, as HuffPost observed, that poll “adopted a framework far more sympathetic to the monuments’ opponents, asking about their ‘relocation’ rather than their ‘removal.’”
Those views haven’t changed in the last two years, although there’s some support for clarifying the meaning of the monuments.
In a Winthrop University poll published last December, 42 percent of Southerners responded that the monuments should be left alone, 28 percent said a plaque should be added for context, “nearly one-fourth” said the statues ought to be moved to museums and “[o]nly 5 percent want to remove them completely,” according to the AP.
The removal debate is not just about people “fiercely attached to [their] Confederate heritage.” While it’s unclear whether Marla Coleman was forced out for her views or simply removed in favor of a more qualified candidate, it’s time to stop pushing the narrative that voters are bigots simply because they don’t want to erase historical names when history-erasing is en vogue.
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