FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – The Franklin County School Board banned the Confederate flag in the district’s dress code in the midst of a renewed Black Lives Matter movement across the country.
The ban passed during a virtual school board meeting on Monday night.
“I’m very happy and it’s long overdue,” said Board Member Penny Blue.
Blue is the only African American board member and has been fighting to get the flag banned since the fall of 2019. She said she’s relieved, but disappointed it took George Floyd’s killing and local protests to bring about the change. Blue added that, to her, the Confederate flag represents hate.
“If you want to have it on your private property, that’s fine because then I can choose not to go on your private property," said Blue. "Children and teachers do not have a choice whether they can go to school or not. And I’m not interested in my tax dollars supporting white supremacy.”
The ban failed back in January 2020 during a packed and heated school board meeting, where members expressed concerns that banning the Confederate flag would infringe on students’ freedom of speech.
On Tuesday, locals spoke to 10 News about the board’s recent decision. County residents like John Glasgow and Shirley Lester said the Confederate flag is part of history and banning it won’t erase the past.
“People that don’t remember history or learn from it are going to repeat it, so I think it’s a horrible idea," said Glasgow.
“People look for problems. It’s not about race, it’s about behavior. You have to change the heart. You can’t change a law. The law isn’t going to make you love somebody. The law isn’t going to make you care about somebody,” said Lester.
The motion passed with six votes. Two board members abstained, Donna Cosmato who declined to comment, and P.D. Hambrick, who could not be reached by 10 News for comment.
Blue said she is hopeful that this is a stepping stone for change in the county.
“I’m hoping that this is the first move or decision in many,” said Blue. "That we can all come together in Franklin County and really make Franklin County a wonderful place for everyone to live.”