Petition seeks to rename Maury High after 'Norfolk 17' student as board suggests removal of Confederacy ties

Posted at 9:40 PM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-22 23:14:45-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Local leaders are looking at ways to help heal pain that history may have caused.

“We have some schools that hark back to Confederate alliances,” said Dr. Noelle Gabriel, the chair of the Norfolk Public School Board.

Those schools are Walter Taylor Elementary, William Ruffner Academy and Matthew Maury High School.

Demetrius Buie graduated from Maury in 2005.

He started a petitionto rename the school to honor Louis Cousins, the first Black student to desegregate Maury High School in 1957.

“For some people it’s just a name, but for the Black community that attends Maury High School, without Mr. Louis Cousins we would’ve never been to that school,” said Buie.

The vice chair of the school board, Carlos Clanton, says it’s a possibility.

During the board's retreat in July, they will discuss how to include the community in this process.

“I don’t think we can afford just talk. I think that the citizens in our community are really looking at change,” said Clanton.

News 3 spoke with a Maury High parent who she says she understands why some people want the name change, but she said a name change comes with a price tag. She believes the money should go towards other things, like the upkeep of buildings. Maury High School is more than 100 years old, and it’s not in the best shape.

“Maury High School in particular is a school that is in need of dire renovation or a new building in itself,” Clanton adds.

Clanton says if the board does move forward with the name change, it will be done in phases to consider cost. However, he said at the moment they don't have an estimate for the changes.

Related: Hampton School Board votes to rename Jefferson Davis Middle School

Buie says it’s bigger than just a name change.

“Not just the name changing, but the system itself,” he adds.

A system where every student feels welcomed.

Click here for full coverage on America in Crisis.