College Purges Revolutionary War-Era Heroes, Replaces Them With American Indians – AKA 'Inclusion'

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Revolutionary War-era figures are being arguably warred against by a college -- as part of a revolution.

Virginia Peninsula Community College (VPCC) -- formerly Thomas Nelson Community College -- made an announcement last week: It will rename two residence halls which have long borne the monikers of Virginia Senator Dr. Corbin Griffin and Founding Father George Wythe.

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Here are bits on both men -- via ColonialWilliamsburg.org and RevolutionaryDay.com, respectively:

George Wythe...was a citizen of Enlightenment, deeply interested in politics and history and science. He emphasized reason and individualism. In his lifetime, he argued both publicly and privately against slavery, urging the emancipation of enslaved people and owning none himself by the end of his life. He bolstered John Locke’s assertion of the natural rights of man — that all are equal and independent and “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.”

Wythe was known for his lifelong pursuit of virtue, holding his government, particularly the legal system and those who worked within it, to a high moral standard. In letters during and after Wythe’s lifetime, Thomas Jefferson was quick to note his mentor’s virtue as “spotless” and “of the purest tint.”

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Dr. Corbin Griffin was a prominent Yorktown physician active in the American Revolutionary War, serving as a surgeon with Virginia forces. During the Siege of Yorktown, he was imprisoned by the British on a ship anchored in the York River. During his confinement, his “cellar down the water side” was pilfered by sailors from the British sloop Bonneta while other British troops took items from his medical shop.

George Wythe's bio is titled "Moral High Ground," but VPCC may not think so highly of him. 

The Student Navigator reports:

Virginia Peninsula Community College is renaming Griffin and Wythe halls, which are connected and function as one building, to Kecoughtan Hall. The name is a tribute to the Kecoughtan tribe, the early settlers of the land where VPCC’s Hampton campus is located.

“We will be working to change over the signage and other references to Griffin/Wythe during the spring 2024 semester. It will be a gradual process,” said Steven Felker, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness and Transformation.

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The Virginian-Pilot adds insight:

In 2020, in the wake of a national reckoning on racism, the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges asked local college advisory boards to review the appropriateness of the names of their colleges and facilities. A handful of Virginia colleges (VPCC among them) eventually renamed their institutions.

...

Though historians say [Wyth] was an early advocate of abolition, [he] owned slaves until late in his life. This summer, Richmond Public Schools renamed a school named after him.

Per VPCC.edu, it's all about inclusion:

In deciding on Kecoughtan, the College Board cited the name as more inclusive, as it acknowledges and honors the original Native American cultures of the Peninsula. The area now known as Hampton used to be called Kecoughtan.

As I've previously noted, nothing is more modernly inclusive than exclusion:

It’s a new era, and things seem more sophisticated than ever. Among such complexity, it’s understandable that powers which force inclusivity upon us might accidentally include exclusion by excluding inclusion. Hopefully, they’ll at some point include in their endeavors a dictionary, so they can include an understanding of the word “inclusive.” Until then, we’ll just have to keep excluding more things until everything is somehow included.

Shaking America's Ethch A Sketch to erase historical figures is all the rage:

Revolution: To Fight Racial Injustice, the US Army Will Rename Nine Historic Bases

Pummeling the Problematic: The Days of 'Racist' 'Ole Miss' May Be Numbered

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Article at Biden's Alma Mater Cancels Abe Lincoln — a Racist Executioner

Emancipation Revocation: Boston Arts Commission Votes to Remove Memorial Funded by Freed Slaves

Lincoln's Name Yanked From California School: He Didn't Prove 'Black Lives Ever Mattered' to Him

University Removes Slave-Owning Benefactor's Name, His Family Demands Their $51 Million Back

Back to Virginia Peninsula Community College, the institution is in mid-sweep. From the school paper:

The board also said by going with Kecoughtan, it sets the tone for future names, which could consist of Powhatan Hall, Paspahegh Hall, or Chickahominy Hall. It also was recommended a plaque or display be installed in the renamed building that provides the historical background for the Kecoughtan reference.

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Three other buildings on the Hampton campus — Moore, Diggs and Harrison halls — also were named after (Thomas) Nelson’s contemporaries. However, they are scheduled to be replaced by a new building in the coming years, so officials determined changing those names is unnecessary.

Thomas Nelson Jr., after whom the College was named (until 2022), was a Revolutionary War hero, signer of the Declaration of Independence, the fourth governor of Virginia, and a slaveholder.

VPCC's moves conjure questions: To what degree must our country's founders be axed because they were concordant with their time but at odds with ours? And does the same standard apply to newly-minted icons -- including tribe members living hundreds of years ago in Kecoughtan? Powers That Be may lack interest in exploring such queries. Presently, it seems easier to unsparingly slice off select elements of our past. Virginia Peninsula Community College's update isn't the beginning of a grass-roots movement; it sits at the end of a top-down remaking of America. 

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-ALEX


See more content from me:

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