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Virginia college removes the names of Revolutionary War figures

 August 25, 2023

A Virginia college has decided to remove the names of figures from the Revolutionary War era in an effort to be "more inclusive."

In a recent move, Virginia Peninsula Community College (VPCC) announced its decision to change the names of two of its halls previously named after Revolutionary War-era figures. This decision is part of the college's initiative to foster a more inclusive environment, the Daily Wire reported.

Renaming to honor indigenous tribe

The two halls in question were named after Founding Father George Wythe and Dr. Corbin Griffin, a surgeon who served Virginia Patriot soldiers.

The college has now chosen to rename these connected halls to "Kecoughtan Hall." This new name pays homage to the Kecoughtan tribe, the early settlers of the land where VPCC's Hampton campus stands.

The renaming process, as described by school official Steven Felker, will be carried out gradually.

The decision followed a comprehensive process where a naming task force was formed, and feedback was collected from faculty, student government, and other stakeholders.

Legacy of the figures

George Wythe, who lived between 1726 and 1806, had a significant impact on Virginia's history.

He was a law professor who taught notable figures like Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, and John Marshall.

Wythe was an active participant in events leading up to the Revolutionary War, opposing the Stamp Act, serving in the Continental Congress, and signing the Declaration of Independence.

He also played a role in the 1787 Constitutional Convention and was a pioneer in the field of constitutional law.

Despite his contributions, Wythe's legacy is complex due to his relationship with slavery.

While he owned slaves, he was an early advocate for abolition and took steps throughout his life to free them.

In his capacity as a Virginia judge, he ruled in favor of freeing slaves in a case involving a Quaker landowner's will.

Dr. Griffin's contributions

Less is known about Dr. Corbin Griffin. Historical records indicate that he served as a surgeon for Virginia's revolutionary soldiers and was imprisoned on a British ship near Yorktown. Additionally, Griffin served as a Virginia state senator.

The college's previous name was Thomas Nelson Community College, named after another Revolutionary War hero and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The decision to change the college's name was driven by the desire to make the institution more "welcoming, inclusive, and representative of our unique region," as stated by school president Towuanna Porter Brannon.

Reactions and implications

The decision to rename the halls and the college itself has sparked discussions about the importance of preserving history while also ensuring that educational institutions are inclusive and welcoming for all students.

The balance between honoring historical figures and recognizing their complex legacies is a challenge faced by many institutions across the country.

Conclusion

  • Virginia Peninsula Community College renamed two halls previously named after Revolutionary War-era figures.
  • The new name, "Kecoughtan Hall," honors the indigenous tribe that originally settled the land.
  • George Wythe, one of the figures, had a significant impact on Virginia's history but had a complex legacy due to his relationship with slavery.
  • Dr. Corbin Griffin, the other figure, served as a surgeon for Virginia's revolutionary soldiers and was a state senator.
  • The renaming is part of the college's efforts to be more inclusive and representative of its region.
  • Such decisions highlight the ongoing debate about how to balance historical recognition with the need for inclusivity in educational institutions.