By Dan McDermott
WINCHESTER, VA (June 10, 2020 – 9:01 pm)–Shenandoah University announced today that the 38 member Board of Trustees voted unanimously to strip the name of former Virginia State Senator and United States Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr. from the School of Business and the university’s board room.
The school removed Byrd’s name because of his past support for segregation.
“While the Senator shared with many individuals later in life that he had changed his mind with regard to educational access, Byrd’s belief in the segregation of schools in the 1950s and his actions as a Virginia state senator on behalf of the Massive Resistance effort in Virginia run counter to Shenandoah’s strategic plan and its mission of establishing a campus culture that fully embraces inclusion and diversity,” said the statement.
Before becoming a senator, Byrd published the Winchester Star. His family also owned the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record along with a string of weekly papers. Byrd also made money in the fruit business.
Byrd served in the United States Senate as an independent. He caucused with Democrats but voted occasionally with Republicans.
The then conservatory named the School of Business and Administration after Byrd in 1984. Byrd was a distinguished professor at Shenandoah and “also served the university as a trustee, and was a member of many committees,” according to SU’s biography page for Byrd which has since been deleted.
Byrd died in 2013 at age 98.
Different times, different measures. We cannot rewrite history; only learn from it. Harry F. Byrd, Jr. was a fine gentleman who learned that his way of thinking about race was wrong. I believe that Senator Byrd repented for backing separate but equal policies. It was a different time with different understanding. I do not condone any negative actions against another human being esp. based on race, gender, sexuality, or any other discriminator. We cannot rewrite history; however we can learn from it.