Loudoun Supervisors Ask to Change Harry Byrd, John Mosby Highway Names; Launch Inventory of Racist Symbols

County supervisors will ask the state to change the names of Rt. 7 and Rt. 50 where they honor segregationists, and will gather an inventory of other places in Loudoun that are named for racist figures.

Supervisors voted 7-0-2, with Supervisor Caleb A. Kershner (R-Catoctin) absent and Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) having left the dais for both votes, in favor of Vice Chairman Koran T. Saines’ (D-Sterling) motion to start the process of renaming those two highways where they are named for lawmaker Harry Byrd, known for leading “massive resistance” to integration in Virginia, and Confederate cavalry commander John Mosby. County staff members were directed to report back to supervisors with a process and cost estimate for changing those names no later than May.

As primary routes, the state has the authority to change those names.

Saines said naming those roads “sends a message to both our residents and non-residents who use these roads about what kind of place Loudoun is.”

“Confederates were individuals who willingly took up arms against the United States in order to preserve slavery. We should not be honoring these traitors,” Saines said. “If they had their way, myself, Chair Randall, Supervisor Glass—we would most likely would not be sitting in front of you here today.”

In 2015, Saines and County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) were the first two Black people ever elected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. After the 2019 election, Loudoun’s third-ever black supervisor, Sylvia R. Glass (D-Broad Run) joined them on the dais.

Glass recalled her own family’s historic role in desegregating Virginia Schools. Her family went to court to allow her sister to enroll in Prince William County public schools.

“She would be very happy to see that we are doing something, that we are not glorifying someone who tried to keep my family and other families that look like me from going to public school,” Glass said.

Mosby has already lost some namesakes in Loudoun; earlier this year, the Loudoun County School Board voted to remove the “Raider” mascot at Loudoun County High School, which was named for Mosby’s Confederate cavalry battalion he led in the area. The school’s new mascot is the Captain.

Similarly, the former Mosby Heritage Area Association, which this year marked a quarter century of preservation advocacy and American history education, also adopted a new name, theVirginia Piedmont Heritage Area Association.

Supervisors also launched work to inventory public Confederate and segregationist symbols in the county, with an eye toward possibly renaming those as well. That vote passed 7-0-2, Kershner absent and Buffington off the dais. That inventory is expected back by May or June.

“Our residents, especially those of color, shouldn’t have to drive on, walk by, play in or pay taxes to support public infrastructure that glorifies those who would tear apart our nation and continue a system of racism and oppression well beyond the end of the Civil War,” Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) said. “These symbols only serve to hold up the infrastructure and even confirm false legitimacy of white supremacy to the benefit of populations and to the certain detriment of others.”

“I will say it again: we should learn history, we should know it, we should study it, we should appreciate it, but every part of history should not be celebrated,” Randall said. “And when you name things—streets, buildings, schools—after segregationists and people who supported the Confederacy, it is a celebration. It’s not an acknowledgement of history, it is a celebration of that person, and they should not be celebrated.”

There will be practical considerations in that work, as Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) pointed out. While supportive of the initiative, she said she had found more than 200 homes or businesses with addresses with Byrd or Mosby in the name.

“Even though I think it’s a slap in the face to too many people to continue to celebrate Mosby and Byrd in this county, it is a big thing when you ask someone to accept a change of street address, because what it means is your package is in your mail will probably get lost for about a year,” Umstattd said. She urged working closely with the United State Postal Service and delivery companies to ease that transition.

And Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), also supportive, suggested working with neighboring counties to achieve some consistency in names. Rt. 7, for example, is named Harry Byrd Highway from the Shenandoah River crossing in Clark County to Fairfax County.

This article was updated Dec. 16 at 7:18 p.m. to correct an error in vote tallies.

13 thoughts on “Loudoun Supervisors Ask to Change Harry Byrd, John Mosby Highway Names; Launch Inventory of Racist Symbols

  • 2020-12-16 at 4:14 pm
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    Are you going to demand LCPS names be checked for slave ownership and then changed? Are you going to go through the family history of school board members who came from families who owned slaves and take their names off the school plaques. Are you going to exclude from candidate selection of anyone who had a family member in the past who owned slaves? Would you be surprised to know that some of the current elected officials have come from families who owned slaves? Will you ask them to leave office or never run again? When will it time to publish the top ten priorities the BOS will commit to resolving? I certainly hope the latest efforts to change out statues and plaques isn’t what taxpayers expected to use up the 2 plus billion collected this year! 🙂

  • 2020-12-16 at 8:47 pm
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    You know who else fought against school integration?

    J. Biden (D).

  • 2020-12-16 at 8:52 pm
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    So when will the Loudoun County BoS move to rename Loudoun County and Leesburg which are both named after slave owners? We must demand they be consistent here. They can’t pick and choose which slave owners are permissible and which are not. That would make them culpable in the injustice!

  • 2020-12-16 at 11:57 pm
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    This is getting ridiculous! We are losing our history daily. Change Jeff Davis Highway, take down Robert E. Lee’s statues. Have you ever been to Athens or Florence? You think all of those statues were “good guys”? Your tour guide even tells you this, that in today’s world, these folks were not really heroes, but they were in their time. I am sorry, this is getting silly. It was a different world and losing our history will turn Virginia into New Jersey or Massachusetts for goodness sake.

    If we are going down “silly lane” why not change Reagan Airport? He was a racist, and who knows maybe Dulles was too. Enough is enough…

    • 2020-12-17 at 1:32 pm
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      If the Reagan and Dulles Airports need to be renamed, don’t forget about BWI. The Baltimore Charter allowed slaves in Maryland. In New England there are “Washington slept here” plaques at almost every historical inn – I guess those need to go as well.

      It’s too bad the Supervisors don’t have real problems to deal with given how many of my tax dollars Loudoun County sucks up every year.

  • 2020-12-17 at 7:20 am
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    You can’t change history…..

    …which of course, changing the name won’t do.

    Our history will forever be that we named roads after flawed persons at the same time we attempted to deny basic rights to people of color.

  • 2020-12-17 at 9:42 am
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    For Route 7, at least west of Leesburg, the road could be named for former Loudoun Sen. Charlie Waddell, who actually got the state money to build it (long ago). And, Waddell is a Democrat. I believe it’s best to name facilities after politicians after they are gone, so when Mr. waddell leaves this Earth, in my view, naming it the Charlie Waddell Highway would be appropriate.

  • 2020-12-17 at 9:52 am
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    Change the names and take down the m ok monuments, I don’t care but DO NOT use public funds for these tasks. I’m sure there are companies and organizations that would be happy to show their diversity by donating money for these cultural changes.

  • 2020-12-17 at 10:09 am
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    I’m looking forward to the day when we eliminate the names of every pro-abortion/baby-murdering Democrat from every public space for their support of the most evil and heinous act ever known to mankind.

  • 2020-12-17 at 1:54 pm
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    Dear God. The crazy train has left the station and Randall and her merry band continue to be distracted from doing their jobs of running this county.

    Note to Randall: This once great county was named after John Campbell, the fourth earl of Loudoun, was also a slave owner. Are you on the record in support of changing the name of our county?

    Lunacy in Loudoun County……………..

  • 2020-12-18 at 12:09 pm
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    Thanks MB… Now I’ll have an image of Phyllis and the Gang, with Ozzie screeching in my head. Perfectly accurate.

    I’ll wager 95% of the folks in Loudoun have no idea who the long dead Harry or John were, and could care less. They’re just headed to the Vineyard/Brewery scene.

    But Phyllis and the Gang will be able to virtue signal at their holiday cocktail parties how they ended racism in LoCo by changing street names. This is who they are; Big on glitter — Zero actual results.

  • 2020-12-18 at 7:08 pm
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    Koran Saines, what a selfish little man. Businesses are failing and you want to spend taxpayer dollars to change names, remake street signs and think of all those businesses that will have to change their address all because you are insecure. Changing these names will not help reduce discrimination!!! It is just a chance for you to waste taxpayer dollars, shame on you little man.

  • 2020-12-24 at 10:28 am
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    Ken, You might want to re-think that suggestion. The way this BOS is going there will be a new inquisition approach to make sure anyone (other than current school board or BOS members) get thoroughly reviewed from birth. You may want to check ALL the details about how the former slaves who owned the land transferred to the federal government to make Dulles Airport (WITHOUT even a hearing) before rewarding anyone associated with such transactions and double check if slaves were ever owned by his family “ever”. I’m not saying any of this occurred but before concluding that just because someone was or is a democrat that they would meet the new test of virtue approval. Why should any highway get a name? Route 15 north of Leesburg can’t even get any attention by this BOS even though they promised to fix it. Promises made does not equal promises kept! 🙂

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