Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, told the “Todd Starnes Show” on Monday that he agrees with calls to rename Lynchburg, Virginia.
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Even though the city was named after John Lynch, its founder, Falwell said individuals who don’t know the history are familiar with the word “lynching” and its ties to the country’s past regarding slavery.
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Falwell said his family lived in the area since the 1700s and identified Lynchburg as a one-time “little island of carpetbaggers” with few ties to the city other than to make a fortune on cheap labor after the Civil War. He said in the early days of Liberty University, which is located in the city, the town fought the school tooth and nail about zoning orders and taxes.
Falwell said the name Lynchburg is embarrassing for two reasons. One was the connotation that there was lynching there, which he said was not true.
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“The other is that it is named after Quakers who started the city,” he said. “Quakers are pacifists. They wouldn’t fight in the Revolutionary War and they were ostracized and eventually run out of the state because they were hated so much. And if it hadn’t been for that Revolutionary War, we would not have been able to end slavery in 80 years that existed for centuries in the old world and we did it.”
He said the name change should have been done 40 years ago and he’s glad that someone started the petition drive.
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WSLS.com reported that there is an online petition to change the name of the city in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody. The petition appeared on Change.org and garnered 5,529 signatures as of Monday afternoon.
“If black lives truly matter to the city, then such a word defining the hanging of people, primarily people of color can and will be eliminated,” the petition read.
The report pointed out that another competing petition called on the city to keep the name in place. The opposing petition seems to take on the country’s cancel culture.
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“This insanity has got to be stopped,” the opposing petition reads. “What will happen next if we allow this. Anyone with the last name Lynch, will they ask them to change their name, or worse move?”