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An in-depth look at our region's emerging economic, social, political and cultural identity.

CMS To Rename All Schools With Ties To Slavery Or Racism

Superintendent Earnest Winston said Tuesday that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will get rid of all school names "that many in our community say glorify a racist, hateful and painful past."

The school board opened its meeting with a statement vowing to dismantle bigotry and racism in schools. It said, in part, that "we vow to lift up those who need it the most, to work the hardest where the opportunity gaps are the greatest." (Hear the full statement here.)

As expected, Winston said CMS will immediately begin seeking a new name for Zebulon Vance High, named in the 1990s for a governor who fought for the Confederacy.

"Vance owned slaves and as governor of North Carolina spoke out against and fought anti-discrimination laws and other protections for racial minorities," Winston said. "His is not the example we want to project for our students, families and staff."

Winston said the board has directed staff to review all 175 schools and make changes at all schools "named after individuals who owned slaves or promoted slavery, expressed racist or bigoted views, actively fought against equality" or otherwise demonstrated values CMS does not support.

Winston said changing names is only a symbol, but it’s also a step in the right direction. He said he and the board will reveal more steps toward equity next month.

Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.