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Nauck Leaders to Mull Renaming Neighborhood, Pointing to Namesake’s Confederate Ties

(Updated at 2 p.m) Some community leaders in Nauck are pushing to see the neighborhood’s name changed to “Green Valley,” arguing that an area so rich in African American history shouldn’t be named for a former Confederate soldier.

The historically black South Arlington neighborhood was founded, in part, by freed slaves. Yet it’s come to be known for John D. Nauck, a German immigrant who served in the Confederate Army, then purchased a total of 79 acres of land in the area in 1874 and 1875.

In an open letter to the Nauck community distributed Friday (Feb. 15), longtime civic leader Dr. Alfred Taylor argues that it is “inappropriate for the diverse community to venerate a person who fought to preserve slavery and whose memory evokes painful reminders of laws that segregated and excluded African Americans from public life.”

The county has been locked in some contentious debates over Confederate symbols across Arlington ever since the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville in August 2017 sparked a nationwide conversation about the issue. The School Board’s push to strip Robert E. Lee’s name from Washington-Lee High School proved to be an especially heated process, but Taylor suggested that other communities in the county should be “taking a page” from the Board’s example on this front.

It’s not yet clear how the process of renaming the neighborhood might proceed — the community’s civic association could look to simply change its own name, though there may be additional county approvals tied up in that process. But Nauck Civic Association President Portia Clark is at least circulating Taylor’s letter in a bid to receive feedback on the proposal, particularly given the persistent complaints from residents that the county has failed to listen to their voices.

In the letter, Taylor argues that Nauck residents increasingly support naming the neighborhood “Green Valley/Nauck” or just “Green Valley,” in a bid to honor the area’s original nickname.

The exact origins of the “Green Valley” name are uncertain — Taylor, once the head of the Nauck Civic Association and Arlington’s chapter of the NAACP, wrote that his extensive research into the area’s history suggests the name is linked back to James Green, who owned property on what is now the site of the Army-Navy Country Club.

Yet he writes that “Green Valley” name bears more of a link to the area’s African American history than it does to any one person. Levi and Sarah Ann Jones became famous as the first freed slaves to purchase property in the area back in 1844, and Taylor argues that they helped build up a community in the area and make the “Green Valley” name more widespread.

The area was occupied by the Union Army during the Civil War, and eventually became home to a “Freedmen’s Village” following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Taylor also writes that the Jones family subsequently sold some property to other African American families, helping to establish the area as an enclave for Arlington’s black residents.

As Virginia officials increasingly embraced policies of segregation, the area became home to a large number of businesses owned by black residents, according to the Guide to the African American Heritage of Arlington County, prepared in 2016 as part of the county’s Historic Preservation Program.

Taylor pointed out that the area was “largely excluded from full participation in mainstream American political and social life and commerce” and so residents felt they had to “do for themselves.” Many of the businesses to spring up in the 1900s bore the “Green Valley” name, including the Green Valley Pharmacy, which the County Board designated as a historic district in 2013.

Nonetheless, Taylor argues that the name “Nauck” took hold among the “official Arlington” set in the 1970s — the county’s history of the area suggests that the name “Nauck” first appeared in reference to the area as far back as 1876, and that black residents referred to it as “Nauckville” dating back to the late 19th century.

But Taylor hypothesizes that the destruction of the manor on Green’s original property in 1924 helped contribute to the “Green Valley” name fading away, or perhaps that leaders at the time avoided referring to Green Valley because it was “extensively occupied and used throughout most of the Civil War by the Union Army.” The construction of many Confederate statues and monuments in the early 20th century has often been connected to efforts by white leaders to send a message to black residents, and Taylor suggests some of that could be at play in the decision to embrace a former Confederate soldier like Nauck.

While recounting that John D. Nauck held county positions like Justice of the Peace and “sold considerable property to African Americans,” the county’s heritage guide notes that Nauck fled Arlington in 1891 after his efforts to evict an African American resident were met with resistance.

Taylor also points out that community leaders like the Jones family or William Augustus Rowe (a leader within the “Freedmen’s Village” who later won political office) were passed over in favor of Nauck, and Taylor argues they also deserve consideration.

“We find no record or evidence linking Nauck to efforts to improve the quality of life for its residents,” Taylor wrote. “Look at many of the local, national and international contributions that were made by the residents under the banner of Green Valley… to let that name slip into nothingness would be a travesty to their memory.”

Clark did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the civic association’s next steps for considering Taylor’s proposal.

Taylor’s full letter is below.

Residents of the Nauck Community would like to rename our community “Green Valley.  For unknown reasons, the County made a decision to officially change or refer to our community as “Nauck” and drop “Green Valley” many years ago.

The Present Nauck Community

The Nauck Community–bordered by Army-Navy Country Club, Four Mile Run, South Walter Reed Drive and South 16th Road—features African-American roots that predate the Civil War. Records from the 1840s show that free blacks like Levi and Sarah Ann Jones bought land, built homes and sometimes found neighbors by selling portions of their lots.

A surge of growth came with the start of the 20th Century when an influx of former slaves arrived as the federal government shuttered its nearby Freedman’s Village.

Faced with encroaching segregation, Green Valley residents became self-sustaining as entrepreneurs, educators, religious leaders, health workers and other professionals established an array of resilient neighborhood institutions. Several survive to this day.

Green Valley’s Origin

In.1719, John Todd and Evan Thomas received a land grant within the area that is now referred to as the Nauck neighborhood. Robert Alexander later acquired the land. In 1778, Alexander sold his property to John Parke Custis, whereupon the land became part of Custis’ Abingdon estate. During the mid-1800s, Gustavus Brown Alexander owned much of the area that became Nauck, which at the time was called Green Valley. It has been stated that it is doubtful that any of the early settlers of Northern Virginia made a more significant and large-scale contribution to the development of Arlington and have received less credit and recognition for it than the Frazier’s of the Green Valley Estate. Anthony Frazier built Green Valley Manor in 1821 on what is now the Army-Navy Club. William Frazier, Jr. acquired from the Alexander family several hundred acres of ground straddling lower Long Branch, a tributary of Four Mile Run. The lands were known as Green Valley, perhaps named for James Green, who lived on the land near the present location of the clubhouse at the Army-Navy Country Club..

Green Valley Manor was cited in the floor of a valley about a hundred yards from Long Branch The estate included what are now the Oakridge Elementary School, the Gunston Middle School, Shirley Park, and Arna Valley (Avalon), as well as land from Pentagon City and the River House almost to the banks of Four Mile Run.

The Frazier properties were extensively occupied and used by the Union Army throughout the Civil War. In 1924 Green Valley Manor was destroyed by fire, originating from causes that have never been conclusively established. This may be a hint to why the Green Valley name was dropped and Nauck established.

African Americans began to purchase property and settle in the Green Valley area during that period. Among the early African American property owners were Levi and Sarah Ann Jones. In 1844 Levi and Sarah Ann purchased 14 acres of land in eastern Arlington along Four Mile Run with a down payment of $200 and an additional $235 to be paid over a period of five years. Throughout the decades before and after the Civil War, the Jones family expanded their farm, sold land to fellow African Americans to help create the Green Valley neighborhood and become community leaders. By the time the Civil War commenced, Jones’ farm consisted of seventeen acres, twelve of which had been cleared for cultivation. Jones’ property eventually became the southern extension of the Green Valley community. In the early stages of the community’s development Jones’ home served as a school, a church and a meeting house.   Throughout the decades before and after the Civil War, the Jones family expanded their farm, sold land to fellow African Americans to help create the Green Valley neighborhood, and became community leaders. By 1900 this neighborhood in eastern Arlington County became the largest black community in terms of both geography and population. This large population supported both a church and school within the community. The early strength of Green Valley was due, in large part, to the presence of the Jones family who actively sold land to fellow African Americans. After the war ended in 1865, Thornton and Selina Gray, an African American couple that had earlier been slaves at Arlington House, purchased a small piece of property in the area in 1867.

In the 1970s the community started to become heavily referred to by “official Arlington” as Nauck, rather than what it was commonly known as. It then raises the question why was it still commonly referred to as “Green Valley” when it was recorded in Alexandria County in 1885 as “Nauck?” Was the new Arlington County, started in 1920 bound by recordings of Alexandria County? If they were not bound, why did they continue to  refer to it as Green Valley for the  first 50 years of its existence (1920-1970)?  Was it because John D. Nauck was a former Confederate Army soldier and rhe Green Valley Manor was extensively occupied and used throughout most of the Civil War by the Union Army?

During 1874-1875, John D. Nauck, a former Confederate Army soldier who had immigrated from Germany, purchased parcels of land in South Arlington (some 30 years after Levi and Sarah Ann Jones) and began subdividing it. Prior to that time the areas was known as Green Valley. Some articles state he purchased 69 parcels (acres) and others state he purchased 46 parcels (acres). John Nauck held at least one political office in the area, lived on his property and subdivided and sold the remainder. During the post-war period, the area attracted several African American families residing in Freedman’s Village and other locations. In 1876, William Augustus Rowe, an African American who lived in Freedman’s Village and was elected to a number of political positions, was among those who purchased property in the area during that period. Green Valley grew slowly during the late nineteenth century. Again it raises the question, why their names were not considered?

In 1874, a congregation initially organized in Freedman’s Village purchased land in the area on which to relocate a building containing an African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, (the Lomax A.M.E. Zion Church). The church’s building housed a public school that was later known as the Kemper School. In 1885, the Alexandria County school board built a one-room school nearby. The board constructed a new two-story brick school in 1893 on South Lincoln Street. The Arlington County school board later replaced that building with a larger facility that now contains the Drew Model Elementary School.

While the Nauck community’s origins predate the Civil War and John D. Nauck, African American families like the Jones family formed a seed for the future, the community’s growth, particularly the first half–of the twentieth century was fed by migration. In particular, Green Valley became a station on a migration that traces to the end of the Civil War and the establishment of Freedman’s Village in Arlington following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

From its earliest days and throughout most–and particularly the first half–of the twentieth century, Green Valley and other African American communities were largely excluded from full participation in mainstream American political and social life and commerce. As a result, communities had to “do for themselves.” They made their own institutions, and they did their best to provide services for themselves and their neighbors. They also made their own fun. Community churches facilitated many of these activities.

However, the 1902 Virginia Constitution, which established racial segregation throughout the state and restricted the rights of African Americans, stopped the neighborhood’s expansion. African American property owners continued to subdivide their lands to accommodate more people, but Nauck’s boundaries largely remained unchanged.

During World War II, the federal government constructed Paul Lawrence Dunbar Homes, an 11 acres segregated barracks-style wartime emergency low-income housing community for African Americans in Green Valley. The government built this affordable housing project on a parcel of land at Kemper Road and Shirlington Road that Levi Jones and his family had once owned. Meanwhile, construction of The Pentagon and its surrounding roads during the war destroyed several older African American communities. Some of those communities’ displaced residents relocated to Green Valley, thus stimulating the neighborhood’s development and increasing its African American population. By 1952, few blocks in Green Valley were still vacant. Others were built nearly to capacity. The neighborhood continued to develop during the remainder of the 20th century along the lines established many years earlier. In 2013, the Arlington County Board designated the Green Valley Pharmacy in Nauck as a local historic district. Not only did many of the businesses carry the surname Green Valley, e.g., Green Valley Carryout, Green Valley Blacksox, Green Valley Park, etc., but it was identified as that by most areas of the DMV until its present identification as Nauck. Additionally, the busses and street cars before them ran from their terminus in Rosslyn to its terminus in Green Valley, only extending to Shirlington after its extension of Seminary Road.

Rationale for Change to Include the Name Green Valley

William Frazier, Jr. acquired from the Alexander family several hundred acres of ground straddling lower Long Branch, a tributary of Four Mile Run. The lands were known as Green Valley, perhaps named for James Green, who lived on the land near the present location of the clubhouse at the Army-Navy Country Club. From that time, then a part of Alexandria County, through the establishment of Arlington County until circa 1970 the area was referred to and known as Green Valley. In the 1970s the three areas where most of its African American population was residing, underwent a name change, i.e., Green Valley became Nauck, Halls Hill became High View Park and Johnson Hill became Arlington View without the knowledge of the residents as to why. It was under the name of Green Valley that its pioneers surviving Jim Crow Laws, black codes, lacking financial backing, becoming economically independent, educating themselves and their children, fighting for freedom’ and remembering from whence they came, served as an inspiration to all to celebrate and continue sharing past and present, ordinary Green Valley resident’s accomplishments. It is this memory we seek to memorialize of the important work of what those residents of Green Valley achieved and the legacy they leave for future generations.

Taking a page from the following “It’s time to talk about the names of our schools and what they mean and why they matter,” Barbara Kanninen, School Board Chair, said at an August 2017 meeting, “It is also time to talk about our communities and the values these names reflect and the messages we are sending, not only to our children, but to our future residents.” Residents of the Nauck Community would like to rename their community “Green Valley/Nauck, (although we prefer the name Nauck excluded,” as it was so named and still referred to before for unknown reasons, the County made a decision to officially change or refer to it as the Nauck community and drop “Green Valley,”

Although the Jones family purchased and starting selling parcels of their land, some 30 years before John D. Nauck, raises the question, “if the name of the area was referred to as Green Valley from its inception in the 1700s to the 1970s,” why was the name “Nauck” selected and not one of the early African American residents who contributed to its growth, i.e., Jones, Gray or Rowe”? We find no record or evidence linking Nauck to efforts to improve the quality of life for its residents.

Unlike today’s process utilized by the Arlington Civic Federation in allowing its Civic Associations to select the name of the area and its Association, the Green Valley residents were not afforded that opportunity. Today, we are asking for that opportunity by requesting our community once again become the Green Valley/Nauck community in keeping with its rich history. In today’s time for the community to be named after John D. Nauck, a former Confederate Army soldier and developer who was not known to have made any other contribution to the improvement of the quality of life or values of the residents of Green Valley is not the message we want to send to our children or future residents. Look at many of the local, national and international contributions that were made by the residents under the banner of Green Valley and to let that name slip into nothingness would be a travesty to their memory.

Borrowing further from the schools direction, supporters of the renaming — “Nauck” to include its original name “Green Valley”– argued that it is inappropriate for the diverse community to venerate a person who fought to preserve slavery and whose memory evokes painful reminders of laws that segregated and excluded African Americans from public life.

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Arlington Officials Mark 60th Anniversary of Stratford School Integration With Celebration Tonight

It’s been sixty years since four black students integrated Stratford Junior High School, marking the beginning of the end of school segregation in Virginia, and Arlington leaders are planning a special event to commemorate the momentous anniversary.

The school system and Arlington County’s Historic Preservation Program scheduled a celebration tonight (Monday) at the H-B Woodlawn auditorium, near the original Stratford building at 4100 Vacation Lane.

The event will mark nearly 60 years to the day from when the students first attended the school back on Feb. 2, 1959, as Stratford became the first school to defy the state’s policy of “massive resistance” in the face of the Brown v. Board of Education decision banning school segregation.

The program will include remarks from School Board Chair Reid Goldstein and County Board Chair Christian Dorsey, as well as three of the four students who first integrated the school: Ronald Deskins, Michael Jones and Gloria Thompson. The fourth, Lance Newman, passed away last fall.

The program also includes a performance by the H-B Woodlawn Choir and participants from the Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Visual Arts contest reading essays they prepared. Arlington Public Art will also be distributing free 60th anniversary commemorative letterpress prints created by visiting artist Amos Kennedy.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. for anyone hoping to examine artifacts and art from the civil rights era, with the formal program beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The gathering comes at a time of great change for the Stratford property. With H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs set to move to a new building in Rosslyn for the new school year, the site will soon become home to a new middle school.

The School Board decided late last year to name the building for Dorothy Hamm, an Arlington-based civil rights activist who fought for the integration of Stratford. However, the Board attracted some backlash by stripping any reference to Stratford from the building’s name, given the term’s connection to Robert E. Lee and his family home of Stratford Hall.

Photo via Arlington County

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School Board Names New Middle School for Dorothy Hamm, Ditches Any Reference to Stratford School

(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) Arlington’s School Board will name a new Cherrydale middle school after civil rights activist Dorothy Hamm, opting against including any reference to the historic Stratford School on the new building’s site.

Following the Board’s unanimous vote yesterday (Thursday), the school will open next year as “Dorothy Hamm Middle School.” It’s set to be located at 4100 Vacation Lane, the former home of the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs, and should hold about 1,000 students.

Though the process of naming the building hasn’t drawn quite as much controversy as the renaming of Washington-Lee High School, the debate has nonetheless raised familiar questions about how the county grapples with its history. The “Stratford” name presented a particularly thorny option for the Board to consider, as it has a bit of a complex legacy.

Many people around the community hoped to see the Stratford name stay attached to the new school, considering its significance in the civil rights movement in Virginia. The original Stratford Junior High School (which remains on the site) was the first school in the state to admit black students following the momentous Brown v. Board of Education decision, marking the beginning of the end of Virginia’s policy of “massive resistance” to desegregation.

Yet the original school was named after Stratford Hall, the childhood plantation home of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, making some uncomfortable with the name’s connection to Lee’s legacy of defending slavery. After all, the Board voted just a few months ago to strip Lee’s name from W-L over similar concerns.

Accordingly, Hamm emerged as an alternative choice, given her role in fighting to integrate Stratford. Her children attended the school soon after its desegregation, and Hamm also supported a series of other court challenges to Jim Crow-era laws in Arlington.

“What I really love is that this was a story of the moms of Arlington, who heard from their children,” said School Board member Barbara Kanninen. “They wanted to know why they couldn’t attend this school. That’s why they stood up and fought. By naming this building after Dorothy Hamm, we’re honoring the fight, rather than the place. I think it’s going to be a terrific message that we’re sending to the students of that school, and I think that’s something to be excited about.”

But in ditching the Stratford name entirely, the Board cast aside the recommendation of an advisory committee convened to offer recommendations for the school’s moniker. The group suggested either naming the building simply “Stratford Middle School” or the lengthier “Dorothy Hamm Middle School at the Historic Stratford Building” to ensure a reference to the “Stratford” remained.

Board Vice Chair Tannia Talento proposed that the Board accept the latter option, but Kanninen made a motion to remove the “Historic Stratford Building” section of the name. That passed, but only on a narrow, 3-2 margin, with Talento and Board Chair Reid Golstein dissenting.

“I find it a bit incongruous that we all like the Dorothy Hamm name because we’re lauding the significant, dynamic and historic actions of Dorothy Hamm in the desegregation activity and, at the same time, setting aside the Stratford name, which is equally a part of the significant desegregation history here,” Goldstein said.

Dean Fleming, a friend of the Hamm family who has also been active in organizing opposition to the W-L name change, also told the Board that Hamm’s daughter, Carmela, is “not interested in having her mom’s name on school.” Dorothy Hamm herself passed away in 2004.

Instead, Fleming said her daughter suggested creating a “hall of honors” at Stratford to honor the family’s legacy, while preserving the original name of the building.

Yet Board member Nancy Van Doren argued that the school system has already sketched out an extensive plan for creating an “interpretative trail” and other memorials on the new school’s grounds to ensure that the full history of the Stratford building is available to students.

Though some historic preservation groups around the county have protested any removal of the Stratford name, Van Doren believes the new building will not lack for commemorations of its integration history.

“Those will all be up at the time the building opens,” Van Doren said. “And because it will all be physically there, on the site, I don’t think we need the ‘at the Historic Stratford School’ section of the name.”

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W-L Renaming Deliberations Inspire ‘Disgust’ From Some Participants, Pride Among Others

“Washington-Loving” might’ve earned a committee’s blessing as the ideal new name for Washington-Lee High School, but members of the group say the process of reaching that recommendation was anything but smooth sailing.

Two members of the W-L renaming committee even ended up resigning from its ranks, decrying the group’s work to find a new name for the school as a process that was tainted from the time deliberations started this September.

Other members of the committee argue that the group had some passionate disagreements at times, but generally reached a fair consensus on a name for W-L. Regardless of exactly where the truth lies, however, the dispute marks yet another complication in a process that’s been characterized by plenty of fierce debate ever since the School Board’s June vote to strip Robert E. Lee’s name from the building.

“I am departing with disgust about a morally bankrupt process that has been directed, not facilitated,” Patrice Kelly, a W-L parent, wrote in a letter resigning from the committee provided to ARLnow. “Between the chilling of discussions, the manipulative process, the disregarding of solicited public opinion and the pressure to conform to the unstated mandate, I have concluded that this process is a disingenuous attempt to appear that public input was sought.”

The chief concerns of Kelly and Bill Moser, a W-L alumnus who resigned from the committee once it finished its work last week, are that the committee failed to give any consideration of the prospect of keeping the name the same, or finding another historical figure with the name “Lee” as a substitute.

Both were also frustrated that one of their fellow committee members had ties to the school system, albeit indirectly, which they felt showed that the Board was unduly influencing the process. Dana Raphael, the daughter of former Board member Abby Raphael, represented recent W-L alumni on the committee.

“I won’t say that she orchestrated the process… but I do wonder about the whole thing,” Moser told ARLnow.

Raphael, for her part, feels that such assertions are ridiculous. She says she became interested in the battle over the W-L name when the Board was deliberating the issue this summer, particularly because she’s believed that the name should be changed ever since she was a freshman at W-L.

And as for her mother, Raphael says “she’s had no role in the facilities policy or the renaming,” particularly since she left the Board in 2015.

“Her commitment to public service inspired me when I was in high school to take an active role in my community, in politics and in current events,” Raphael wrote in an email. “I applied to join the renaming committee because I wanted to ensure the process considered the history of the school and the legacy of Jim Crow, as well as ensure we centered a conversation about civil rights.”

Raphael also argues that it wasn’t part of the group’s mission to consider the prospect of keeping the name, noting the group had “no authority to ‘overturn’ or ‘nullify’ the School Board’s decision to replace ‘Lee.'” She added that a neutral facilitator brought on by the school system to guide the process made such a point clear “at every single meeting.”

“It was out of our control,” said Chloe Slater, a junior at W-L representing current students on the committee. “The point was to choose a new name, because that’s what the School Board decided. Some people didn’t understand that aspect.”

Even still, Kelly and Moser were frustrated that the committee was directed to ignore comments submitted in public surveys about the process that pushed for the name to stay the same. Kelly even felt that the committee was dissuaded from any consideration of feedback asking the group to pick another “Lee” to honor.

But Linda Erdos, a School Board spokeswoman and a staff liaison to the committee, says the group decided on its own not to move forward with another “Lee” option.

The committee considered people like “Light-Horse Harry” Lee, Robert’s father and a Revolutionary War general, or William Lee, George Washington’s enslaved manservant. Yet Erdos said the group ultimately decided that picking another “Lee” would feel too much like “smoke and mirrors” after the Board’s decision. William Lee, in particular, ended up among the committee’s top choices, but did not advance in the group’s final round of voting.

“We thought, if we’re going to make a change, why not make it be a big one, why not make it be amazing?” Slater said.

Slater, the daughter an interracial couple herself, was quite pleased that the committee settled on a name to honor Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple who managed to successfully challenge Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage in court. It helped, too, that replacing “Lee” with “Loving” meets the desire of many students to keep the “W-L” moniker intact, Slater said.

Raphael said she was willing to consider other names beyond those that would’ve preserved the school’s W-L acronym — abolitionist Harriet Tubman was the lone finalist to be considered whose name didn’t begin with “L” — but she believes “Loving” is a fine choice to honor ‘those who fought for equality and equal citizenship.”

“I would be proud to tell people that I graduated from Washington-Loving High School,” Raphael said.

Moser takes a considerably dimmer view of the committee’s recommendation. He felt the group was too “racially fixated,” primarily submitting African American historical figures for consideration, even though the W-L student body has a large Hispanic population as well.

He also sees the “Loving” name as a “totally inappropriate and ridiculous” and viewed it as “a joke as far as I was concerned,” considering that he doesn’t think much of the Lovings and their fight to end the interracial marriage ban.

“The rationale for them was they wanted to be happy and they were willing to break the law to do so,” Moser said. “These were not people of high stature. They didn’t accomplish anything other than being in an interracial relationship.”

Moser’s skepticism regarding the Lovings aside, Erdos believes the committee’s deliberations were generally quite civil. Given the legal wrangling and political battles that have so far marked the renaming process, she says that was (generally) a pleasant surprise.

“I really was bracing for some difficult meetings,” Erdos said. “But, quite honestly, I was surprised it went as well as it did.”

The Board plans to discuss the name change for the first time on Dec. 20, and vote on Jan. 10.

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Naming Process for New Middle School Sparks Debate Over County’s Civil Rights History

Arlington school officials will soon decide on a name for the new middle school to be built on the site of the Stratford School building in Cherrydale — but the complex history of the building, and its original name, has divided the community over which option is best.

A naming committee settled on three options for the 1,000-seat school in October, ahead of the building’s planned opening next fall. But that collection of parents and community members hasn’t been able to settle on a definitive recommendation as the School Board gears up for a vote on the matter.

The 28-member committee was instead split down the middle on two options for the building: naming it simply “Stratford Middle School,” or dubbing it “Dorothy Hamm Middle School at the Historic Stratford Building.”

The group initially considered “Legacy Middle School at the Historic Stratford Building” as an option, but that choice fell out of favor as the process advanced. The committee even floated the compromise possibility of naming the building “Stratford-Hamm Middle School,” but stopped short of recommending such an option.

The building, located at 4100 Vacation Lane, currently houses the H-B Woodlawn program, but was once the site of Stratford Junior High School. That’s believed to be the first school in Virginia to admit black students following the momentous Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, lending plenty of historic significance to the site and its name.

But the “Stratford” name itself comes from a considerably darker part of the nation’s past. The name is derived from Stratford Hall, the plantation home of Robert E. Lee and his family in Westmoreland County.

Considering that the school system is in the midst of a contentious process to strip Lee’s name from Washington-Lee High School, any association with the Confederate general has the potential to kick off a new firestorm of controversy in the county. Accordingly, some members of the naming committee championed naming the building after Dorothy Hamm, a civil rights activist who helped lead a court challenge to Arlington’s school segregation policies, leading to the eventual integration of Stratford.

“The event signified the end of massive resistance in the commonwealth of Virginia and dealt a powerful blow to the opponents of racial equality nationwide,” Ellen Smith, the incoming principal of the new middle school, wrote in a letter to the Board. “While Hamm was the community activist at the forefront of the campaign to integrate Arlington Public Schools, she was not the only community activist that was determined to integrate Arlington schools so that all students would have the opportunity to receive an equal education.”

Smith noted in her letter that the committee was determined to see “Stratford” remain part of the name somehow, in order to maintain “the clear connection between the name of the school” and its historic integration. But by including it only as addendum beyond Hamm’s name, Smith wrote that some on the committee fear it will be “dropped from regular use.”

That’s why many would much rather simply name the school “Stratford.” The county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board endorsed such an option, castigating the school system in a letter for even considering the possibility of a name other than Stratford “without any apparent prior consideration of the uniqueness and the historical and cultural significance” of the site.

A special committee convened by Superintendent Patrick Murphy to debate “Historic Interpretation at the Former Stratford Junior High School” reached a similar conclusion, noting that the school has earned inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

“That the Stratford name comes from the birthplace of Robert E. Lee is an uncomfortable part of the history, but not the most important part,” Susan Cunningham, the co-chair of that committee, wrote in an email to ARLnow. “As community historian Dr. Arnold Taylor reminds us, ‘We have to understand where we are coming from so we can appreciate where we are going’… Names matter. History matters. At Stratford, the civil rights history matters most.”

Smith urged the Board to consider the opinions of both the commission and the review board, but otherwise would not take a firm position beyond suggesting one of the two names.

The Board will discuss naming options for the first time on Thursday (Dec. 6), with a final vote set for Dec. 20.

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Beyer Convenes Fourth ‘Women’s Conference’ at GMU Saturday

Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District) is gearing up to hold his fourth annual “women’s conference” Saturday (Oct. 13), with speeches planned from groundbreaking female lawmakers and activists.

Beyer has titled this year’s event “Breaking Through: Women Work for Change,” and it will run from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. at George Mason University’s Virginia Square campus (3351 Fairfax Drive).

While Beyer is set to give some opening remarks at gathering, the rest of the speakers will be women.

Del. Danica Roem, the state’s first transgender lawmaker who represents Manassas Park and parts of Prince William County, is set to deliver the event’s keynote address and discuss her work in Richmond.

Beyer will then present the “Clara Mortenson Beyer Women and Children First Award” to Naomi Wadler, an Alexandria fifth-grader who gained national notoriety for organizing protests in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting earlier this year.

Subsequent panel discussions include the following, per Beyer’s office:

Making History in Virginia with the ERA

Megan Beyer — Former executive director of President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Lynda Johnson Robb —  Advocate for literacy and the eldest daughter of President Lyndon Johnson
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-2nd District)
Bettina Hager — D.C. Director and COO, ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality

Starting a Movement – Mobilizing Support and Driving Solutions

Michelle Millben – CEO and Founder, MGMC Enterprises LLC
Kim Anderson – Executive Vice President, Democracy Alliance
Jennifer Herrera – Virginia Chapter Leader, Moms Demand Action
Miriam Gennari – Environmental Advocate

Gender and the Supreme Court — Understanding the Impact on Women’s Issues

Jill Morrison — Executive Director Women’s Law & Public Policy Fellowship Georgetown University
Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza – Journalist
Emily Martin – Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice, National Women’s Law Center

The event is free to attend, though participants should register online or by calling Beyer’s district office at (703) 658-5403.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Tree Canopy Increases — “Arlington’s tree canopy increased slightly from 2011 to 2016, according to new data, but remains below levels of a decade ago. A total of 41 percent of Arlington’s acreage was filled with tree canopy when evaluated last year, an improvement from the 40 percent from the last time it was studied.” [InsideNova]

Police: Drive Safely This Weekend –Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning and predicted six more weeks of winter, and the Patriots and Eagles will be facing off in Super Bowl LII on Sunday — both are occasions for the Arlington County Police Department to remind residents to drive safely. [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlington During the Sit-Ins — A Buzzfeed photo essay on the sit-ins features several photos from Arlington. [Buzzfeed]

Green Color in Stream Explained — A dye used in fire department training activities turned part of Four Mile Run bright green yesterday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Thank You to Quantum — Staff from Clarendon-based recruiting firm Quantum Search Partners helped ARLnow’s team move some heavy furniture as we expanded into a new office yesterday. Thank you for lending a hand!

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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Beyer to Discuss ‘The Road Ahead’

Beyer event graphic

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is inviting the public to join him in an evening of open discussion at an event he has dubbed “The Road Ahead.”

Beyer says many Arlington residents have contacted his office recently to voice concerns and to inquire about working to “bridge the great divisions that exist in our rich and complex country.”

Issues on the agenda for discussion include health care, immigration, climate change, gun safety, civil rights, and America’s role in the world, among others.

The event will take place at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) on Monday, January 16, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. The event is free and those interested in attending may register online.

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Morning Notes

Oktoberfest beers on the shelves of the Harris Teeter store in Pentagon City as of 8/1/13

Concern Over License Plate Readers — Automated License Plate Readers, or LPRs, are mounted on Arlington County Police cruisers, allowing cops to see instantly if a car driving by is stolen or if its owner is wanted. The police department also stores the data collected by the LPRs for six months, to aid in investigations. The American Civil Liberties Union, however, is concerned about the data storage, saying police departments are “storing everybody’s time, place, and location.” [Voice of America]

Meat Returns to Galaxy Hut — Nine months after switching to an all-vegetarian menu, Galaxy Hut in Clarendon is again offering bacon, pulled pork, beef chili and other meat dishes. While veggie dishes will still be offered, owner Lary Hoffman blames lack of sales for his decision to ditch the vegetarian-only menu. [Washington Post]

No More Playboy at the Pentagon — Army and Air Force Exchange stores, which operate at the Pentagon and Fort Myer, among other military installations, have stopped carrying a third of its magazine collection. Among the magazines no longer available, due to declining interest, are Playboy, Penthouse and American Curves. [Sun Gazette]

NewsChannel 8 to Be National Model — Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is buying WJLA, plans to use NewsChannel 8, the station’s 24-hour local cable news channel, as a model for markets across the country. Sinclair will create a “hybrid” channel that airs local news produced by local stations and national news produced by WJLA. [Baltimore Sun]

Mobility Lab Wins Award — Arlington County’s “start-up think-tank,” Mobility Lab, has won a top award from the Association for Commuter Transportation. Mobility Lab “researches and creates solutions for transportation options that are cool, healthy, fun, and efficient.” [Arlington County]

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Morning Notes

Virginia Square Fountain (Flickr pool photo by ddimick)

Officials See Positives in Voting Rights Act Ruling — Although civil rights activists have expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act earlier this week, some local officials see a few benefits in the decision. Election officials no longer need approval from the U.S. Department of Justice on election matters down to the precinct level. That will allow them to make decisions on the fly, such as extending absentee voting or holding a voter registration drive. [Sun Gazette]

State Reissues Arlington’s Municipal Stormwater Permit — The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) reissued Arlington’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. Arlington is the first municipality in the state to receive an MS4 permit that includes quantitative pollution reduction requirements to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The new permit is in effect through mid-2018, during which time Arlington is required to decrease its share of the nutrient and sediment reductions by five percent. [Arlington County]

Arlington Company Receives $100 Million from Goldman Sachs — Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), a Ballston-based maker of cloud based data analysis software, has received a $100 million minority investment from Goldman Sachs. APT plans to use the funding to open an office in Japan and take on more clients. The company lists Wal-Mart and McDonald’s among its existing customers. [Bloomberg]

Flickr pool photo by ddimick

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Free Event Features Arlington Civil Rights Activist

An Arlington resident lauded for her involvement in the civil rights movement during the 1960s, including a stint in jail, will be featured at a special free movie showing and panel discussion tomorrow (Wednesday).

The Arlington Public Library will host a free screening of the movie “An Ordinary Hero: The True Story of Joan Mulholland.” Following the film, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland and her son Loki, who wrote and directed the movie, will take part in a panel discussion. William Pretzer, senior curator of history at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, will also be a part of the panel.

Mulholland, who is white, grew up in the South during segregation and emerged as an activist who fought for the rights of others, much to the chagrin of her parents. In 1961, Mulholland flew to Jackson, MS, to take part in civil rights demonstrations and sit-ins. She was arrested, fined $200 and jailed for three months. Despite her punishment, Mullholland continued her activism, and in 1963 took part in the infamous sit-in at the Woolworth in Jackson, MS.

In some of the historic photos above, Mulholland can be seen at sit-ins and demonstrations that took place around Arlington from June 9-23, 1960. In one, she is sitting behind activist Dion Diamond (who was arrested later that day) at the Cherrydale Drug Fair store on June 10, 1960. The two were part of the Non-Violent Action Group (NAG), which is credited with helping to push most Arlington restaurants to desegregate on June 22, 1960.

Mulholland, a long time Barcroft neighborhood resident, later taught for almost three decades at Arlington Public Schools.

The film “An Ordinary Hero” tells Mulholland’s life story and contains rare footage from the civil rights movement. The film screening and panel discussion will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27 at Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd).

Historic photos courtesy of Arlington Public Library and Flickr photostream by washington_area_spark

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