A black and white yearbook photo shows a crowd of teenagers clapping with one holding up a Confederate flag. Right next to it are yearbook photos of teenage students.
In their research of Benjamin Franklin Hurt, one of the namesakes of Agnor-Hurt Elementary School, Albemarle school staff found pictures of Confederate flags and swastikas in Albemarle High School yearbooks from when Hurt was principal. Credit: Screenshot taken from a slideshow presented at an Albemarle County School Board meeting in July 2023.

Agnor-Hurt Elementary School will keep half its namesake and change to Agnor Elementary School, Albemarle County School Board decided last week. 

Agnor-Hurt is named after Guy T. Agnor, a former Albemarle County executive, and Benjamin Franklin Hurt, a former Albemarle County Public Schools administrator. Researchers at ACPS Community Education told School Board members in July that they didn't find anything problematic with any of Agnor's public remarks or affiliations. They did with Hurt.

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Hurt served as the principal at Albemarle High School from 1954 through 1984. While principal, the high schools Booster's Club — a group dedicated to raising funds for their schools — held minstrel shows as their annual fundraisers. Minstrel shows depicted Black Americans in an extremely derogatory and stereotyped way, and would typically be performed by white people in blackface. The high school yearbook featured pictures from the show, along with other problematic imagery such as Confederate flags and swastikas.

A longtime member of the Crozet Lions Club, Hurt was a part of a group that also used these kinds of shows for fundraising and entertainment around the country in those years, ACPS researchers said.

“We're not here to judge the character of any of the namesakes, but look to see if the record matches what our forward looking values are right now,” said Judy Le, board chair of the Albemarle County School Board.

Albemarle schools base its decisions off its anti-racism policy, according to the document presented at Thursday's School Board meeting. Karen Waters, director of community education for the division, requested Agnor-Hurt be considered for review at a July school board meeting. Leslie H. Walton Middle School was considered as well, but the Board decided to retain the name later in September.

Agnor Elementary School will be the official name beginning July 1.

The change followed a unanimous decision from the Albemarle County School Board. The elementary school is the last of the 14 schools selected for review.

Starting in 2018, with the adoption of its anti-racism policy, county schools set out to reexamine the namesakes of its schools — reconsidering each school named after a human being — to see if they aligned with its new values. Waters led various renaming committees as they researched each person and suggested names for those who were deemed controversial. Since then, six of the 14 schools were changed, including Agnor-Hurt.

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