Certain thin-skinned folks are outraged at Senator Harry Byrd Jr.’s name coming off a Shenandoah University building. Yet even these ardent defenders can’t deny his segregationist record, the removal’s cause. They just keep reminding us that about the nice, old rich man who gave away money, and who (if rather ineffectually) once held office.

Do these people really not know that erasing history is So Very Winchester? Far more significant figures, far more honored in their day, have long vanished from public view here — in particular, those that preceded Harry Byrd Jr. to the U.S. Senate from Winchester, James Murray Mason (1847-1861), and the Senator’s father, Harry Byrd Sr. (1933-1965).

No Black activists erased this history, and nor did any fierce Antifa outsiders. The two men were just politely “disappeared” by the inaction and tacit messages of civic leaders.

The most absurd indication is the “historical” marker at the site of Harry Byrd Sr.’s childhood home. It mentions Admiral Richard Byrd’s childhood there, but omits brother Harry, later a Governor and a Senator. Did young Harry sleep in the backyard with the dog?

Admiral Byrd, some suggest as a surrogate, gets a statue here. His career peaked at the South Pole, as far from Winchester as possible. Harry Sr., without even mentioning public offices, lived his whole life near his boyhood home, was a major businessperson here, and was a hometown activist, especially with the Apple Blossom Festival. But his only hometown public notice is on his grave.

As for Mason, he has no marker or mention here. Most Winchester residents have never heard of him, though, right here in our city, he was a major champion of the slavery and secession cause that devastated the nation.

Unable to face shameful history, our local leaders have stifled it. Though highly honored in life, the disgraceful racist acts of these two men and, of course, the defeats of their causes, indelibly tainted them. Why would Harry Byrd Jr. be different?

Senator Mason’s Fugitive Slave Law created the tyrannical Homeland Security Agency of his day. It increased North-South tensions, and directly inspired the most effective political novel in our history, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

As for Senator Harry Byrd Sr., his great public disgrace, Massive Resistance, created radical unconstitutional laws to keep schools segregated and to intimidate the NAACP and others who supported the law of the land. His son was part of the poorly thought out and short-lived project.

These men don’t deserve statues. But, as we are so often reminded, we should not erase history. A simple plaque at the Old Courthouse, describing their racist abuses and motives, would help us to remember the lessons of our community’s past. Byrd Sr. and Mason did business in that building, though the current Museum effort there, of course, ignores both.

Only a snowflake complains when an embarrassing minor figure’s name is erased. Especially in a city that serenely erases major history-making figures for decades, rather than face racism’s central role here.

Larry Yates is a resident of Winchester.

(31) comments

Spock Here

Providing examples of condemnation as requested is "empty rhetoric" and "just for show"? Well, y'all should be fine with that since you hear that every day from your leader. Hypocrisy? Look in the mirror and see yourself. What has been ignored and brushed aside is really something for the ages.


who the heck is my leader? I hope you don't mean Joe Biden.

Doc Samson

@Maurer - Apparently, the Left is still pouting over 2016, so they all still have Obama pics up that they pray to everyday... [lol]


Segregation was the history of Virginia. Should we forget that it happened? I don't think so. The road to equal rights was difficult and few nations of this planet have reached the end. I lived through red-lining and the initial integration of schools. There is still too much mistrust among people based not on fact, but on initial perceptions. There are those who promote that mistrust, and those who use it for political gain. As one person, I do what I can, but the voices calling everyone they don't like a racist are not helping. I am looking for people of good will who will work to improve the community we live in.


Should we honor segregation with monuments to it? Is segregation an admirable cause to put up on a pedestal (literally)?


If Larry Yates is a mud racker. He stirs the pot for his own attention, glorification, and benefit. If this wasn’t true, he would be raising the issue of Shenandoah University’s segregated past and demanding that they address it. If this wasn’t true, he would be demanding that our Governor, and Attorney General step down for their past racist behavior. But he is not. Why is that? As for the removal of Senator Byrd’s name from the business school, I am upset by it. There was nothing thoughtful and deliver about the way Shenandoah handled this matter. You can’t be when you make such a decision within an hour or two of the poorly announced and advertised “public forum” to “listen” to the community. The man I knew wasn’t a segregationist, but a kind, generous, and forgiving man that had recognized his past sins and changed his views. Maybe we all could learn something from the Senator.


You know when they used that phrase "muck raker," it quickly became adopted as a badge of honor. That was a century ago, but I will take it, even in your version.

Exactly how am I getting "attention, glorification and benefit?" How does that work?

As for what I have and haven't done, you aren't tracking me very well. I did and do support the effort to get Northam to step down.

As "kind, generous and forgiving" people being segregationists, that's hardly rare. But if he changed his views he didnt say so publicly where it could have done some good. He could have given us a very accurate view of the "sins" (your word) of Massive Resistance.


You lie, Larry. From an article in the Winchester Star: "...She said she was aware that when former Byrd Business School Dean Miles Davis, who is black, visited Byrd, he told Davis he was thrilled that SU had hired a dean of color for the school. Byrd also told Davis that he was sorry and wrong for his support of massive resistance.

“Now that doesn’t change anything, but you may not know that was his feeling,” Sheil said. “I’m hearing everybody just so clearly and feeling the agony of this and I get it.”

She added that the Byrd family has been actively involved with SU, supporting several scholarships at the university.

“The sins of the father, that’s one thing, but the family that is here has supported this school in so many ways,” Sheil said.

Bernadine Dykes, an associate professor of management at SU, said while she appreciated hearing about Byrd’s apology, “an apology is not a green light to maintain the status quo.”

Fitzsimmons did not participate in the forum, but she wrote in an Open Forum published August 2013 in The Winchester Star after Byrd’s death that the two were friends. “While some have commented on the senator’s political and social stances of decades ago, he would have been the first to admit that some opinions evolve with time, reading, and deep consideration,” she wrote...."


I was wondering when Winchester's chief radical socialist would chime in!

Admiral Emluk of Borbistan

You drive on government roads. Went to government schools. Are protected by a government army. Maybe even receive a government check. You are one of the biggest big government people that I know of.

Bernie Mac

Those are all paid for by the taxpayers, not the government.


Still using words you can't define, huh?


I hate to break it to you, but while I would be honored to have that position, I can't claim it.

Doc Samson

"Certain thin-skinned folks are outraged at Senator Harry Byrd Jr.’s name coming off a Shenandoah University building. Yet even these ardent defenders can’t deny his segregationist record, the removal’s cause. They just keep reminding us that about the nice, old rich man who gave away money, and who (if rather ineffectually) once held office."

LY is either intentionally obtuse or, like most Leftists, completely unable to interpret words.

1. People were "outraged" at HOW it occurred, perhaps more so than THAT it occurred.

2. I don't recall anyone I spoke to or read denying anything about the senator's past egregious actions.

3. Yes, he DID give money away and those who took the money SHOULD give it back. Point here being that every single one of us has done or said something in our past that we would be embarrassed by today and regret doing or saying. If SU found his past deeds to be UNFORGIVABLE, then why are they keeping the cash?

What is interesting to me is all the Leftists clamoring for removal of our blackface wearing governor... oh, wait...

Spock Here

What is interesting to me is all the Leftists clamoring for removal of our blackface wearing governor... oh, wait... Here are a few. Now an argument can be made that they all seem to have forgotten about it, and even invited him to speak at a convention event. Ethics, morals, outrage, decency....poof...the bar has indeed been set low and it seems many are rushing to lower it further. I would mention others, but I know you hate it when everyone but you strays away from the topic.

TERRY MCAULIFFE – “It’s time for Ralph to step down, and for the commonwealth to move forward.’’

US SEN. TIM KAINE – ”“The racist photo from Gov. Northam’s 1984 yearbook is horrible. I hope the governor…now takes the time to listen to those he has hurt and reflect on how to move forward.”

US SEN. MARK WARNER – “Northam must now listen to the people and communities he has hurt, and carefully consider what comes next.”

US REP. DONALD MCEACHIN – “I am so deeply disappointed and dismayed by the horrific picture of Gov. Northam that surfaced today.”

US REP. ELAINE LURIA – ”There is no excuse for this type of photograph then or now. I ask Gov. Northam to resign. This isn’t about politics, this is about what is right and wrong.”

US REP. BOBBY SCOTT – ”The governor must now make the right decision that is best for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

US REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER – ”The bigotry depicted in this photograph is appalling. The governor must resign and fully acknowledge the painful past these images evoke.”

Then there is the state party, which made no hesitation in telling Northam that he had to go


They made statements. That was it. The Blackfaced guvna is still in office, because liberals are only morally outraged by the other side. Pathetic.

Doc Samson

"Now an argument can be made that they all seem to have forgotten about it, and even invited him to speak at a convention event"

I appreciate the examples but, yeah, that was kind of my main point. All those statements are appropriate BUT, if there were a conservative in office, there is NO WAY it would have ended with anything less than an immediate resignation and probable doxxing/public shaming...

Spock Here

Like Al Franken?

Jason Murray

@Doc Samson - I can't show you screen shots in this comment section, but trust me, that I sent a letter to the governor asking him to resign. I also wrote other Dem officials as well asking for them to weigh in as well. Suffice it to say that the claim that Dem constituent majority lacks integrity is a false narrative.

That said, there is a simple reason why the Dems could not let the governor go.

For zero tolerance to work, both of the dominant parties are going to have to play. The fact that Republicans defend Trump and other Republicans at all costs, no matter how racist, sexist, or outright criminal their behavior is, means that the Democrats have no choice but to do likewise to stay in the game. Put another way, Dems can't very well apply zero tolerance for imperfect behavior when the Republicans seem to allow for absolute tolerance of literally anything?

For example, the Republican party ran a literal child predator in Alabama in the form of Roy Moore and he still got 48% of the statewide vote.

If Republicans don't care about allegations of sex offenses against their folks (that have witnesses even) then why should Dems care about a racist past that, while not excused, isn't outright criminal, and is also balanced by a documented history of good works to help the African-American constituency, efforts to represent their interests as best as he possibly could, and even came with an apology? Its not like the governor has a long history of saying racist things since then or, you know, supported white supremacy even on his death bed long after the civil war was over like a certain ex-confederate general that has a street named for him around here.

There is a difference between mistakes in the past and patterns of behavior. There is a difference between criminality and inappropriateness.

Bernie Mac

@Jason Murray - I'm not buying any of your transparent equivocations, we all know the real reason behind Northam's remaining in office - HYPOCRISY!

Doc Samson

I think we all know that the level of response was piddling compared to what would have happened if the governor was a conservative. To suggest otherwise is... illogical.


Spock, Al Franken got what he deserved. Kicked out. Our Blackfaced guvna deserves the same.

Bernie Mac

Empty rhetoric. Made just so they (and their useful idiots) could say that they did something. Kind of like when the Washington Post puts a small article critical of a Democrat deep in the bowels of the newspaper. Shallow posturing.

Doc Samson

@Bernie - How many headlines have there been about how THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY IS TEETERING ON THE BRINK because of... reasons. 3 days later? Retraction on Page 9 Section E... [rolleyes]


Somehow you are holding me accountable for Democrats who changed their minds. One of the saddest signs of the incompetence of the US right wing is its inability to see that there is a left that are not Democrats, certainly not mainstream Dems.

As a community organizer in younger days, I typically organized against Democrats in local urban offices. Right now friends of mine are activly doing that in Richmond. They are also taking on the centralized forces of government, especially in Portland, where the jackbooted federal thugs long predicted by the right have shown up,

Because you all on the right don't have the smarts to distinguish between your opponents, or to grasp the real power struggle, and especially because of your commitment to racism, you will never win much in the long run, even though you have all the dern money and a lot of gut-level Klan style support.

Doc Samson

Portland? Jackbooted federales? [lol] I guess if you only buy what the pro-China DNC is selling, you'd have that opinion. Many of us are capable of seeing past that -


Starting at the end, I remember active young Black folks and their supporters calling on Northam to quit. I supported them, and I am sorry you missed it.

MY point about giving money is that for rich people to give away money is like most of us giving pennies.

As for no-one denying anything, I also don't recall anyone saying "Harry Jr. was an active segregationist during his political career. We just get vague references to unseemly actions. You don't get forgiven for non-specific crimes.


Then why are you not clamoring for UVA to denounce Thomas Jefferson, and remove his name from the school?

Doc Samson

@Con - Or removing everything JFK/RFK since they were known misogynists/sexual abusers...

Spock Here

One opinion could be that Thomas Jefferson did not take up arms against his country. Not speaking for Mr. Yates, but that would be my difference.

Spock Here

Learning about a racist past should be just that: learning. One doesn't learn from a statue or a street name.

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