The Vance Elementary School Renaming Task Force presented its final name recommendation to the Asheville City Board of Education during its meeting December 7, 2020.
After conducting research, meeting with local historians, and hearing from students, staff, families, and the greater school community, the Task Force members recommended that Vance Elementary School be renamed Lucy S. Herring Elementary School.
Currently honoring North Carolina’s secessionist Civil War Governor Zebulon Vance, an avowed racist and supporter of Jim Crow laws, the school’s name has drawn the ire of many in the community, as has the obelisk dedicated to his memory on Pack Square in the heart of downtown Asheville.
Lucy Herring was a dedicated educator for 52 years, 35 in Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools. She began her career at age 16 in a one-room Swannanoa school house; in 1920 she moved to the segregated Hill Street School and later to Stephens-Lee High School, Asheville’s renowned high school that educated generations of African American students from Buncombe and surrounding counties.
In 1941, Herring became the principal at Mountain Street School—later named in her honor—and was one of the district’s first Black administrators, eventually overseeing segregated elementary schools for both the Asheville and Buncombe districts. In 1961, Mountain Street School was rebuilt and named Lucy S. Herring School. For six years, the school served local students of color before closing in 1967 following court-ordered integration.
You can learn more about Herring through this virtual presentation, moderated by Vance Elementary School 5th Grader Mackenzie Bulfer. For more information, contact Ashley-Michelle Thublin at Asheville City Schools.