A postcard circa 1930-45 of the George Washington Carver High School, Culpeper, Va.

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As a result of what is happening all over the U.S. at this time, we the George Washington Carver Regional High School Alumni Association, Inc., feel compelled to speak as citizens of this community.

For the past five years, the group has given $15,000 a year in scholarships to local rising college students. This totals $150,000 in the past fifteen years. We have some history in this community, and most of us pay taxes for the good of the entire county. In fact, we have helped to pay for things that, in light of a more inclusive history being shared, should probably never have been.

After the Civil War, we had Black congressmen, even a Black town councilman in Culpeper in 1887. No other Black official was appointed or elected until the 60s. Interracial marriage was against the law in Virginia until 1967.

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Culpeper didn’t fully integrate schools until 1968; the last in Virginia to do so. George Washington Carver Regional High School bussed African American students from four counties [including Rappahannock County].

As was stated to the Culpeper Board of Supervisors in 2015, the Civil War is very ingrained in Culpeper’s history, but there is more history here than just the Civil War. There is so much history that we are unaware of, especially African American History. We understand not all past wrongs can be corrected. What we do ask for is open conversation, acknowledgement of past wrongs and evidence that our thoughts and feelings are given consideration.

Some things can be done very easily, such as slipping in the name Pelham, the young 24-year-old flamboyant artillery officer, who had no real attachment to Culpeper and thus, no reason to be honored here. I guess you would say the same for George Washington Carver Regional High School’s name change to Piedmont Vocational School without consulting concerned citizens. 

With nationwide discussions about the monuments, Culpeper should be proud to have Joe Daniel’s offer to move the courthouse monument (not a call for demolition). The Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain Battlefield Associations should be eager to receive this monument, as are eight associations vying for Albemarle County’s Confederate Soldier.

This would provide a more appropriate location for those who wish to see such exhibits. The courthouse monument and the Confederate battleflag send an ugly and hurtful message about our community. As has been mentioned, the inappropriateness of such symbols is being recognized by many throughout the nation. Hate is not heritage. 

This commentary was submitted by Charles Jameson, former chairman of the GWC alumni board in Culpeper.