A group led by Thomas Nelson Community College alumni, the Turn the Tide Committee, is circulating a petition calling on Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin to stop Thomas Nelson and other community colleges from changing their names.
The colleges – originally known as Thomas Nelson, John Tyler, Patrick Henry and Dabney S. Lancaster – were named after public figures who owned slaves or promoted racist policies such as school segregation.
“On behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which elected you to ‘roll back’ the dangerous and erroneous ideas commonly known as ‘critical race theory’, we offer our heartfelt petition to you: We ask that you allow the people of Virginia to decide to rename Thomas Nelson, John Tyler, Patrick Henry, Lord Fairfax and Dabney Community Colleges,” the petition reads.
A press release from the Turn the Tide committee said that in addition to the petition, an attorney sued the State Board of Community Colleges on behalf of a group of Shenandoah County citizens to stop the name changes.
All the institutions have already chosen new titles, according to their websites. The Virginia State Board of Community Colleges last year approved name changes for Lord Fairfax to Laurel Ridge Community College, John Tyler to Brightpoint Community College, Patrick Henry to Patrick & Henry Community College, Dabney S. Lancaster to Mountain Gateway Community College and Thomas Nelson. at Virginia Peninsula Community College.