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I Want to Encourage African-Americans in Hanover to Support Elected School Boards: End a Vestige of Segregation!

I realize this is dangerous.  But the pro-elected school board in Hanover needs what frankly is a ridiculous number of signatures (the law should have been 15% or 1000 or maybe 15oo signatures but I am grateful for the effort to bring about elected school boards in Virginia.) and we need all, as abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison wrote:  Agitate, agitate, agitate!

But African-American voters, activists and leaders in Hanover ought especially to support the referendum and ultimate victory:  For appointed school boards is a vestige of discrimination and segregation.  Let’s get rid of it.  It also opens up the political system in Hanover County.  Seven (or nine if they adopt two at-large members that Hanover may be authorized to do by statute) new entry-level positions in politics.  For public service.  Jesus said be a servant.  Good place for service.

It is not often that I cite the ACLU but here is a historical treatment of appointed school boards and I agree with it (alas it is true):

Appointed school boards are part of the legacy of Virginia’s post-Reconstruction period, during which the state’s white leaders sought to limit the political influence of African-Americans. It culminated in the infamous Constitutional Convention of 1901, which was devoted to codifying Jim Crow practices. At that well-documented gathering, Virginia’s leading statesmen amended the Constitution to require literacy tests and poll taxes and reinstituted felon disfranchisement. They also rejected attempts to allow elected school boards in Virginia.

In 1947, Arlington County was allowed to enact elected school boards.  BUT when it became apparent that that school board would integrate the county schools by race, the General Assembly took back that right to elect the school boards (from the ACLU post):

In 1947 the General Assembly finally capitulated to the wishes of Arlington County by passing a law permitting that one jurisdiction to elect its school board members. But even this refreshing turnabout had a distressing ending. In 1956, after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Arlington’s school board voted to integrate the school system. The General Assembly reacted immediately by repealing the law allowing elected school boards in Arlington.

Again from the ACLU post citing an odious comment in the 1901 Constitutional Conviction but soon to be US Senator Carter Glass:

Discrimination! Why that is exactly what we propose; that exactly, is why this Convention was elected — to discriminate to the very extremity of permissible action under the limitations of the Federal Constitution with the view to the elimination of every [N]egro who can be gotten rid of, legally, without materially impairing the strength of the white electorate.(footnote omitted)

Now no one will say, and I am NOT SAYING that anyone in leadership in Hanover County advocates discrimination or segregation.  But let’s get rid of this relic of Jim Crow.

I would respectfully urge the African-American community in Hanover County to use this to organize politically – something like a Hanover Voters Coalition – if you would and this might help open up elections in the county.

I’ll help.  Let me know how to help.  Least I can do.


About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

2 Responses to “I Want to Encourage African-Americans in Hanover to Support Elected School Boards: End a Vestige of Segregation!”

  1. Freddy Boisseau says:

    I do not want to stick my nose in on another county’s business, but I thought I would share with you one of the downsides of an elected school boards. Since the school decides how the money in the school system is spent and approves a recommended budget for the school system to the board of supervisor, but has no taxing authority they are not restrained by any responsibility. This has caused issues here in Chesterfield with a school board and the board of supervisors, both of whom are controlled by the Republican party, fighting over the school budget. With the school board proposing a budget that can only be paid for with a tax increase by the county, which the BOS is reluctant to approve, it is not pretty. I am pretty sure that happened prior to elected school boards, but at least then the BOS member had the ability to remove their school board member and replace them with someone more in line with their thinking.

    Just something to consider.

  2. Old Timer from Hanover says:

    Mr. Boisseau:

    On sharing your county’s experiences. Hanover isn’t Chesterfield. What readers should know about Hanover County’s so called Republican Board of Supervisors and their archaic “appointed” School Board is its history steeped in Democratic politics. You see- Old Frank Hargrove ( the father not the Jr.) was a Democrat before he became a Republican for self serving reasons – to stay elected to the House of Delegates in Hanover County for decades. Self Serving? Such as his appointment of Judges ( his son in law The Former Circuit Judge Rick Alderman who by all accounts was incompetent as a circuit judge and was removed for his drunk driving arrest with GUN Charges….. look that up in Goochland County records.

    It was OLD Frank who was responsible for John Gordon’s appointment to the Hanover County School Board where he served before running for South Anna Supervisor as a REPUBLICAN. Let that sink in- The Hargroves pulled the wool over Hanover Voters eyes- parading a black man into the Hanover Republican Committee to run for Supervisor. And he’s a DEMOCRAT. Had a 4 x 8 Hillary Clinton Sign for President in his yard last year. He’s been on the Hanover County Democratic Committee since his defeat as a Republican for the Board of Supervisors in 2011. When the Hargroves got tired of him and he wouldn’t support their development of their property in South Anna District they ran Wayne Hazzard against Gordon, defeated him and are now all rolling in their pig slop developing their land and collecting loads of money for themselves and their supporters. Loyalty?

    The Hargroves helped set up the corrupt system of the Hanover County appointed school boards by keeping JailBird Buckey Stanley elected to the Board of Supervisors for 30 years from their home base in Beaverdam giving them a lucrative salary and benefits. When John Gordon ran for Supervisor against Hazzard in 2011 he quietly told his supporters he needed those “Benefits.” Those healthcare benefits were estimated to be worth $15K at the time in addition to the $25K annual salary of a supervisor. And the politicians have the nerve to tell voters that elected School Boards would politicize the schools in Hanover County. The Audacity.

    Good Republicans? Watch and see if the Hargroves support elected school boards in Hanover County aganst Bob Bailie and the Middle Resolution Pac and the contractors who run the county. They oppose elected school boards and will spend a fortune to stop this initiative. Wait and see.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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