Change the name of Thomas Jefferson Elementary

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    Thomas Jefferson not only owned 607 slaves over his lifetime. He whipped and lashed African American children as young as age 9. The Smithsonian found pages in 2012 which had been deliberately deleted from published records in 1964, in which Jefferson wrote,  “I now employ a dozen little boys from 10 to 16 years of age, overlooking all the details of their business myself.” When a young slave decided to make a stand and revolt, Jefferson wrote to his son-in-law (who was the main overseer),“It will be necessary for me to make an example of him in terrorem to others, in order to maintain the police so rigorously necessary among the nail boys.” Jefferson wrote in these passages about how excited he was to see young boys being forcefully put to work in order to turn such a high profit for his own economic prosperity. Although purposefully hidden from the public in later years, Jefferson was deeply proud of the enslavement of these young boys to create his nailery and considered it one of his most significant accomplishments at Monticello. 

    Not only did Jefferson enslave and beat African Americans, but also grossly contributed to the spread of slavery across the country. Jefferson suggested that there were natural differences between black and white people, and asked scientists to prove black people were inherently inferior. Jefferson also came up with a financial four percent formula which, according to Smithsonian, was "the engine not only of Monticello but of the entire slaveholding South and the Northern industries, shippers, banks, insurers and investors who weighed risk against returns and bet on slavery." This four percent formula stated that for every black slave born he was earning a 4 percent profit every year, boiling down the life of a human being’s worth down to a profit margin. Through the dissemination of these ideas, Jefferson justified enslavement as an economic opportunity for white landowners, privileging profit over human lives and further cementing the history that still stains our country today. 

    Falls Church City claims inclusivity. I've seen fellow community members and neighbors post on Facebook and attend protests to speak out against racism and injustice in this country, yet we send our children to an elementary school honoring a man who beat and enslaved children not too much older than the very children we drop off at the bus stop.

     Is this what we want our city to stand for? Fighting injustice and racism starts at home. We must change the way our city has treated and discussed racism. We must accept our mistakes and begin to build the city we claim to be.

    In a time when silence belies complicity in injustice, the men on our monuments and the names on our schools operate as powerful symbols. Please sign this petition to change the name of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School to someone that better reflects the ideals we stand for as a community.