Credit: via MCPS

Another Montgomery County community is lobbying to have the name of its high school changed because its namesake was a slave owner.

More than 250 people have signed an online petition calling for the renaming of Col. Zadok Magruder High School in Derwood.

In the first national census, Zadok Magruder is shown as the head of a household that owned 26 slaves. He was a colonel and commander in the Revolutionary War and was elected as one of the first seven commissioners of Montgomery County.

The petition to rename Magruder High says, “now that we know he shackled black people, let’s rename our school after a non slaver.”

It is at least the second petition to rename a Montgomery County High School to surface in the past two weeks.

About 3,000 people have signed a similar online petition to rename Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.

Advertisement

Richard Montgomery — also the namesake of Montgomery County — was a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and became a slave owner when he married into his wife’s family, according to historians.

The petition to rename Richard Montgomery High says that while Montgomery “may have his place in history, he no longer deserves a place on the front of our school.”
Both Magruder and Richard Montgomery high schools were among the six local schools identified by a review group as being named after slave owners.

The school board’s policy addressing the naming of school facilities says “it is preferred” that school facilities be named after “deceased distinguished persons who have made an outstanding contribution to the community, county, state or nation.” The board is advised to give strongest consideration to names of women and minorities.

Advertisement

A renaming process is ongoing for Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School in Silver Spring.

Lee was a prominent Maryland politician and founder of the county Planning Department. He is credited with creating the first land use and zoning system for the county, but historians say he purposely attached racially restrictive policies prohibiting African Americans from buying or renting homes in subdivisions, according to county reports.

The Montgomery County Council has also requested that officials review the names of all county-owned streets and facilities to determine any named after Confederate soldiers.
The Planning Board asked that parks and recreation centers be added to the review.

Advertisement

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com