How race played into the decision to rename Godwin Middle School after George Hampton, and name Kyle Wilson Elementary

The first middle school to open in Dale City will have a new name.

900908-Wilson, Kyle
Wilson

Mills Godwin Middle School, named after a first-term Democratic Virginia Governor heralded for his work in the community college system, will be renamed George Hampton Middle School in the fall.

A new elementary school being built about three miles away will be named after Kyle R. Wilson, who at the age of 24 was the first career firefighter in Prince William County to die in the line of duty. Wilson went into a burning house on Marsh Overlook Court on April 16, 2007 to rescue people whom he thought to be inside. No one was inside the house, and Wilson became trapped and died.

Hampton retired from the Army a Lt. Colonel, worked as a research scientist, and as assistant professor of military science at Virginia State University. Multiple Virginia governors appointed Hampton to serve in several state positions to include roles on the Parole and Alcohol Beverage Control boards.

The 87-year-old was present for Wednesday night’s meeting and was honored by those who spoke in his favor of him for his philanthropic and volunteer work with children in Prince William County.

A naming that divided a community 

hampton
Hampton

For weeks officials on the Prince William County School Board wrangled over what to call what, up until now, had been dubbed “Ferlazzo Elementary” near the intersection of Minnieville and Spriggs roads in Woodbridge. The prominent Ferlazzo family of Prince William County donated the land to be used as a school.

Hundreds packed the county School Board meeting to watch the governing body make the naming decision. The room was divided by racial lines, with the majority of black attendees and supporters of Hampton sitting on the left, and the majority of whites and Wilson supporters on the right.

Coles District School Board Member Willie Deutsh put forward a failed motion that ended in a tie vote to name the new school after Wilson. A second motion by Occoquan member Lillie Jessie to name the elementary school after Hampton also failed in a tie vote, with school board Chairman Ryan Sawyers, and members Allison Satterwhite, of Gainesville, Gill Trenum, of Brentsville, and Deutsh voting no.

Compromise 

schoolboard

After a brief recess, Potomac District School Board member Justin Wilk spoke out for the first time that evening on the issue and injected segregation into the conversation.

“When we talk about walking into a building, and [naming after] someone to idolize… I’m going to propose this… you can hate me… whatever… there is a school right now where kids walk in and they’re the minority and it’s named after a segregationist governor in Dale City, Godwin Middle School,” said Wilk.

In an 11th-hour move, in a meeting that had focused on this one subject for nearly four hours, Wilk motioned to rename Godwin after Hampton, and the new elementary school after Wilson. The move drew applause from both sides of the room, and the Board unanimously approved the measure.

Color lines 

Godwin, who became a Republican for his second term as Virginia Governor, is remembered for his segregationist stance during “massive resistance,” after federal courts ordered schools integrate black students into their populations.

As racially divided as the room had been before the vote, the School Board itself also appeared split across color lines. White school board members supported naming the school after Wilson and black members supported Hampton.

“One of the things that I heard while over at the school, I think it was Saunders [during a school naming committee meeting that convened prior to Wednesday’s School Board vote] and someone on the Kyle Wilson side a school, with a picture of him up on the wall, would help kids to learn and they could feel very comfortable and proud. Well, I thought about and I said ‘that really sounds good.’ And then I thought If’ you’ve got Dr. George’s picture up on that wall, why would they not learn?

deutshscreenshot

Deutsh said there was “tension” in the room over the naming decision. A proposal put forward by him to name the Ferlazzo school after Wilson and the next elementary school to be built at Potomac Shores near Dumfries after Hampton got no traction, he added.

“There’s an old saying that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth makes the whole world blind and toothless. We as a Board cannot keep re litigating the past,” said Deutsh.

That comment was met with laughter from a handful of people sitting on the mostly black side of the room.

“Wow… wow…” he then muttered, and Deutsh stopped speaking.

Reached by phone today, Deutsh said his “re litigating the past” comment referred to another recent school renaming controversy. The Board in 2014 decided not to name a new Haymarket Elementary School after the late black business man and community activist Faxie Burke.

Jessie: It’s County Government’s job, not ours 

Jessie pushed for naming the elementary school after Hampton. Several audience members pulled up the VPAP website which showed Hampton donated $200 to her most recent reelection campaign and asked whether or not she had to recuse herself from voting. The School Board has no such policy, said Prince William County Public Schools spokesman Phil Kavits.

The Occoquan School Board member was clear that she wanted to honor Wilson’s service to the community, but said the Prince William County Board of Supervisors should build a memorial to honor all fallen heroes, and not leave it up to the School Board to name schools after them.

“It’s time for the board of Supervisors to get this right. This has fallen on the school system, but it’s bigger than us,” she said of the task of honoring Wilson’s memory.

Three memorials at the Prince William County Government Center honor the fallen. A war memorial lists the names of the dead from Prince William County, a reflecting pool, and steel beams from the World Trade Center in New York City honor those from the county who died in the terrorist attacks of  Sept. 11, 2001.

38 thoughts on “How race played into the decision to rename Godwin Middle School after George Hampton, and name Kyle Wilson Elementary

      1. Those are the lines that were actually drawn. The reporter is being factual and honest here.

        While I wish ( and I suppose many others as well) that this were not the case, the facts speak otherwise.

        1. No the reporter is not. If he was he would have mentioned that one of Kyle’s best friends who spoke is black or the many other fire fighters who spoke on his behalf that were not white.
          The article also fails to mention that the majority in attendance supporting Mr. Hampton are members of a historically black Greek Organization of which Mr. Hampton is also a member.

          So no the facts don’t just say black or white.

    1. Amanda, it is a white versus black thing. If it were not, then why was the room divide along racial lines?

      We are talking about Prince William County, a place where you cannot swing a dead cat without hitting some idiot flying a Confederate flag, or driving a car with a Gadsden Flag (Don’t Tread on Me) license plate.

      In my opinion, this is a very racist county.

  1. I watched the school board meeting last night and at times i thought it was going to be a black/ white issue. But Mr. Wilk from the Potomac District and Ms. Raulston from Nebasco District help everyone to come together. So Proud of Mr Wilk and Ms Lawson.Kudos to Potomac local to reporting the true story.

  2. Race?!? Hahaha good try. For the record there should never be a building named after a living person for the only reason that they can still ruin their reputation. Two words- Bill Cosby

  3. It’s so sad that the black community and its elected officials could come out against a hero like Kyle Wilson. I didn’t see very many people from the black community at Ashly Guindon’s funeral either, even though she gave her life for a black woman.

    1. The entire black community can show up for the Crystal Hamilton candle light vigil, but none of them could be bothered to show up for Ashly Guindon’s funeral? SMH

      1. Wow, there were black people in attendance for her funeral. I guess you didn’t realize there are black cops, community leaders, etc in this county who attended. You must have also missed a few of them stating that publicly at the board meeting as well.

        1. Elected officials and or first responders of any race always go to big funerals, that is their job. I agree that the black community didn’t show up for her vigil or funeral. I also agree it’s very sad that black people in the county refused to support Kyle Wilson when he died fighting a fire in a predominantly black neighborhood.

      2. Was the entire white community at Hamilton’s vigil? Funny how only others get blamed for playing the race card. It goes BOTH ways.

        1. She wasn’t a first responder hero and her vigil was for family and friends. But pictures of her vigil does show tons and tons of white people.

      1. You’re correct there isn’t any black elected officials outside of the school board at the county level. I would note that when black female Andrea Bailey ran for office last year that she made it very clear that she was only interested in representing the interests of the black people in the district. Funny that she was also a big no show at the funeral.

  4. I think its shameful that this guy was on the news saying its “his” time. Let the self entitlement continue I guess. I agree he is an acomplished man but come on. I would be ashamed of myself saying such things. I guess being humble died with common sense.

    1. Obviously, Hampton didn’t do all of those great things out of the kindness of his heart. He did them because he likes the attention, after all it’s “his turn.” Also, I think Kyle and his family would trade the name of a school for Hampton’s 87 years. I have no problem changing the name of Godwin, because of the tainted history, but doing it this way is shameful.

  5. Plato’s comment is cruel and reprehensible. The black community did not come out against Kyle Wilson. They came out in support of George Hampton. I saw members of the black community at Ashly Guindon’s funeral, but I did not do a count to see if they matched up with the % they are of the county’s community.

    1. Thank you. My African-American mom attended. I didn’t know there was a funeral headcount based on race. You can’t constantly blame others for playing the race card – while simultaneously playing the race card. Smh

  6. First of all, I didn’t like how Mr. Hampton stated at the last meeting before this .. that ” it was HIS turn” because he is 87. How pompous! Where is it written that you automatically deserve recognition for such an honor just because you’re old, retired, served in government and your community over anyone else’s contributions old, younger or having given your life working for your community. Names were submitted, petitions submitted. It was a vote. I think it’s ludicrous that everything has to be made in to a race issue to accommodate persons equally because one is white and one is black. The Board should have found a non racial way to choose one person for the new school and leave it like that. They just set a precedent for always compromising because of color…even- steven. Mr. Wilks had to stoop so low as to admonish and rename a school because its Honoree’s name was linked to some long ago issues that have since been reversed and really has no bearing on a learning institution that serves a majority multiracial community as a school should .. as equals. Not minorities. Abolish the use of the word minorities. What glory did this achieve for either nominee? Sadly it has been tainted by we have to accommodate both by whatever means possible… erasing history.

    1. Mr. Wilk proposes a way forward in the face of a deadlocked school board and that’s labeled “stooping low”? Puzzling. Prince William County has become a majority minority community, mean in essence that people of color outnumber Caucasian citizens . I wonder if that’s what’s meant by “multiracial majority”. Never heard that term before. Puzzling.

  7. As badly as our communities need additional schools to be built, this one has caused division, since the decision to be built.

    1) Porter Traditional vs. Community School
    2) Lake Terrapin vs Hope Hill Crossings
    3) Fireman Wilson Supporters (which were not all white) vs Dr. Hampton Supporters (which I had not seen a white person speak up for him).

    Of note: Ashland, Bel Air, Coles, King, McAuliffe, Minnieville, Montclair, and Parks elementary schools have been recently recognized as exceptional schools. The only school in this mix that was lacking, was Enterprise, which I charge Ms. Raulston with correcting.

    Most parents did not want their children to switch schools, but Enterprise was the only school many parents were INSISTENT on not going to, solely based on their low performance.

    1. Well not sure where you was because there was several white people speaking at Saunders Middle School…..Oh you won’t there

  8. Instead of naming the schools & other county buildings after former politicians & activists. Why not sell the naming rights as they do with professional stadiums?

    How about “Monster Energy” Middle School (ok, a little stretch)….”Google” Grammer School……”Home Depot” High School.

    Lets bring a share of that corporate monet to public education.

  9. As a student of Godwin/Hampton middle i disagree with the name change. We should of had a say in this. We, the six grade, only had one year at Godwin. The eighth grade are going to be the last people to graduate from Godwin.And people who graduated from Godwin plus future students will be so confused. At the very least i say we should have a proposal to at least create a memorial or have some choices in our school changes. After all it is our school.

    1. Pay some taxes then have a voice.

      No one owes anyone anything you do not own the school county land nothing. Every teacher or student who does not like it can leave.

      Godwin was a known racist who wanted schools segregated. Changing one building name is not the end of the world. Godwin has many building named after him. Lets focus on real problems and bring people together.

  10. I have lost all respect for George Hampton now.

    How could someone who was blessed with such a long life for one second think that he is more deserving to have a school named after him? When you have someone who was killed giving his very young life trying to save someone’s life in a black neighborhood?

    1. Hampton is a Racist and believes that he was totally deserving of the school being named for him(quote “it my time”) Hampton you are a disgrace to the Community and I hope within time a new School Board will remove your name and replace it with someone who is deserving.

      1. Very cheap shot John. I know Dr. Hampton. He is NOT a racist. In fact, those that call other people racists……think about it John….YOU sound like a racist. Dr. Hampton has served his nation and state in many capacities, with honor He has helped, in his 87 years, to bridge the gap between and among races. It is unfortunate that the SB did not follow its own rules….causing the current ruckus…….but this in no way, is a reflection on Dr. Hampton..

  11. …Um, but it was segregated…the Caucasian people did not want an African American to be the name of the school and the African American people did not want to name the school after a Caucasian person…let’s call it what it is. Wasn’t the room racially divided… did the community not sit like that in the room too, while the government officials were deliberating and discussing the issue…the article’s writer was just stating the facts of the situation. I know we have this politically correct thing in the USA…but the reality is, it was divided by racial lines…just saying.

  12. First, where is the money coming from for the name change of Godwin Middle? Do people know teachers at Godwin have classroom sizes of 30+ students? Do people know Godwin Middle has students who beg teachers for help to stay out of gangs? Do people know Teachers from Godwin are buying supplies for students because they can’t afford it? Do people know Godwin Middle school has behavior problems that are hidden by teachers not being able to write referrals and have to now go through steps before a referral can even be written? Do people know that the “zero tolerance” policy doesn’t apply to this school? Do people know teachers from Godwin who have been threatened? Do people know that there aren’t enough teachers at Godwin Middle? Do people know if their child’s IEP is being met properly at Godwin Middle or if they are skirting special Ed? Do people know the superintendents of the county and school board have barely stepped foot in Godwin? Since Waltz taking over He has stepped foot in the school maybe a total of three times? Do people know that multiple school board members said they don’t “know” much about Godwin Middle, including the area board member? Do people know most in Godwin are free and reduced lunches? Who if any of you have done anything to help Godwin middle because I can tell you the county doesn’t…they can afford to change the name but can’t buy enough books in the school for every student????!!!! They can take away teachers planning periods? When the school board and superintendents and Hamilton come and teach for a day at Godwin Middle then I will have respect for them. When they open their pocketbook to help educating these children and help teachers instead of tying their arms then I will have respect. When teachers aren’t threatened on a daily basis. When fights don’t break out that are brawls where students hold doors closed and teachers back. When fight clubs in bathrooms are no more. When students throwing desks at teacher are no more. When teachers are supported so they can go back to education and not babysitting. When scores aren’t hidden by “adjustments” at the state level. When students coming in at sixth graders can read. When esol students with IEPs don’t speak a word of English yet put into an inclusion class because IEPs trump esol and classroom teachers aren’t given resources to help those students. When you experience what truly is going on in the school you will find that everything is clouded over and that they aren’t given nearly the same resources…that our “school board” and “superintendents” act like they “had no idea and thank teachers for telling them” yet teachers have been screaming for help for years asking for monetary help for the school and police presence to deal with the violence. Let’s worry about a stupid name change and not about what is really going on behind closed doors at Godwin because scores can be easily veiled in the world today. Ask a teacher at Godwin who has been more present in their school…the DOJ because of the lawsuit against PWCS under Waltz watch OR Waltz, his staff, and the school board. You will be surprised I’m sure that their response will be the DOJ. Mild Godwin was a democrat who was for segregation his first term, changed to a republican who was for segregation his second term. Godwin like the majority of America had a change of heart when he realized segregation was wrong. Dale City was built to show unity. Godwin middle was the first middle school built in Dale City. It shows the public that people can change. Godwin realized his mistakes along with the majority of America. You are taking away history and a great teachable moment, but alas what’s new because teachers at Godwin can’t “teach” because they have to worry about how their students are going to eat and even giving money out of their pockets so they can buy lunch…free or reduced doesn’t mean the kids eat. Teachers aren’t given enough supplies, books for students, or even proper faculty for the classroom setting. Keep the name and take that money and actually “fund” education at Godwin Middle…unless Dr Hamilton is willing to give his resources primarily to the teachers then I don’t see what her or anyone in the community has done for Godwin Middle School. Working in the community doesn’t trickle down to supporting staff, especially when students aren’t eating or have books or teachers have classroom sizes that are the (what is it that PWCS says) 14 to 1 student to teacher ratio? Or 15 to 1….I have a hard time listening to people fighting over a name change and race baiting each other when they are ignoring the fact that Gowdin Middle School is a failing school that the “scores” the state and county can tote are always adjusted. Let’s see what the scores really are and you will be floored. Let’s not waste taxpayers money on a name change and put it towards educating the children of Godwin and give teachers the resources to do so. Maybe even throw in a copy machine since teachers at Godwin have been without one for so long and are using their own money and supplies to make handouts for their students so they have something to take home.

  13. Great post Jess!! Note that Stevie Waltz/Keithie Johnson/ Rae-ie Darlington and the entire PWCSB are unaccountable, wreckless and out of control. What a collection of CLOWNS! The school naming game is nothing but a welcomed distraction to Waltz and the idiots who are hiding at the moment in the shade of the NameGame including by not limited to Johnson and Darlington. They, along with Mr. Hampton (“Dr.” Hampton?), should just get out of town while the attention is elsewhere. I wish things were not so focused on “Dr.” Hampton’s lack of and/or fake credentials. As far as I’m concerned, he’s not any more distinguished than other PWCS’s so-called Dr.’s who’ve “earned” their Ed.D through ridiculous programs recognized by other Ed.D charlatans as being legitimate academic accomplishments. The also consider themselves and like to be addressed as Dr.’s…case in point – “Dr.” Waltz. What a joke. “Dr.” Healy and of course, “Dr.” Lawson. These are the dark days…glad I moved out of the County. Such a joke. Hopefully the DOJ will descend on the school system and clean some house by revealing the fraud and injustice.

  14. Let’s just call this what it is: anti-White BULLSHIT. ALL the governments in this nation (and other nations)-federal, state and local-cater to NIGGERS and SPICS because they are scared of them. FUCK ALL NIGGERS AND SPICS, they need to be exterminated like the plague they are.

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