LYNCHBURG, Va. – Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. left no doubts about his feelings towards the name of the city where his university is located.
“I personally support changing the name of the city of Lynchburg. It’s been an embarrassment to Liberty University ever since we started,” Falwell said in a news release. “That was one of the reasons Liberty’s original name was changed from Lynchburg Baptist College to Liberty Baptist College in 1976.”
Falwell announced Friday that even though the name Lynchburg was not derived from the act of lynching, he would still support changing the city’s name.
“So many people from Liberty have told me that when they travel and tell people where they’re from, they’re often asked, ‘Why in the world would you want to live in a racist place like that?’ It’s because people take ‘lynch’ and they think it means there were lynchings here, when the truth is it was named after a Quaker.”
The city was named after the city’s founder, John Lynch.
Falwell said he is indifferent to any new names that have been suggested for the city.
An online petition to change the name started last month has been signed by more than 5,300 people.
Another petition, one to keep Lynchburg’s name the same, has been signed by nearly 9,000 people.