I was intrigued, nay, fascinated by the Gazette’s recent article on the renaming of the Meriwether Lewis School and the procedure undertaken by the Albemarle County School Board to facilitate their pre-determined outcome. In response to this article, I respectfully ask that you publish this open letter to the School Board:
To: Albemarle County School Board Re: Renaming of Schools
As I understand the current situation, after the renaming of the Meriwether Lewis School, there are still six schools whose names are being considered for change. In considering any new names (which I am sure you have already decided upon), I kindly request that my name NOT be placed on the ballot of “potential” school names. I am indeed unworthy. Why do I say this? I am basing my reasoning on the criteria used by Ms. Karen Waters (ACPS Director of Community Education) for deeming Meriwether Lewis unworthy as a person and not fit to have an educational institution named after him. Therefore, I offer the following reasons for deeming myself unworthy of consideration:
1. I have disreputable family members. I know that I had an ancestor in the late 18th century who owned several slaves. Also, my maternal grandfather was a bootlegger in Bacon Hollow, in Greene County. (Having family from Bacon Hollow probably automatically disqualifies my name from consideration.)
2. I am married, so that works in my favor. But I have no children, which disqualifies me.
3. In my 30+ career as a pastor working in various churches in Richmond, Charlottesville, Crozet, and two communities in Pennsylvania, I have moved quite a bit. Such a transient lifestyle disqualifies me.
4. As a youth, I was once accused and charged with a crime (which I did not commit). Even though this was a minor affair, and the charges were dropped at the request of the alleged “victim,” plus this occurred over 45 years ago, I understand this incident disqualifies me.
5. I have chronic health issues. Thankfully, none are life-threatening. But you cannot have a school named after you if you have health issues, obviously.
6. Currently, I do not have any significant debt. But I have in the past. This also disqualifies me because it is obvious that a person’s past always trumps the present.
7. I do not come from a wealthy family—which would seem to be plus. It is common knowledge that no person of affluence has ever contributed to the benefit of the community at large or been a person of moral worth. However, while serving a church in Charlottesville, we did have a parishioner who won the state lottery. Such an association is, of course, enough to invalidate any consideration of my name.
I understand the serious nature of the above items. I also understand that no amount of service to my congregants, work benefiting the community, personal accomplishments, or any other meritorious work I have undertaken through the years should in any way absolve me of the heinous nature of the above moral failings. Please remove my name from all lists for consideration in your foreordained procedure to rename the schools of Albemarle County.
P.S. I am also not a place, theme, or value—which also disqualifies me.