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CMS officially renames Vance High School after Charlotte civil rights icon Julius Chambers

Opened in 1997, Julius Chambers High School was originally named after Zebulon B. Vance, a former North Carolina governor and slaveowner.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools held an official ceremony to rename Vance High School after civil rights icon Julius Chambers

Chambers, who died in 2013, was a prominent civil rights leader and attorney in the Charlotte area. He opened North Carolina's first integrated law firm, and in 1971, he won a Supreme Court ruling that led to the desegregation of school buses in the CMS district, paving the way for integration across the country. 

"This moment right here is a moment of history. It shows my father's work for mankind wasn't taken in vain," said Derrick Chambers. "But it's being honored at this day and time. He fought tirelessly until his last breath, fighting for mankind."

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The CMS board voted 8-0 last year to change the name of Vance High School to Julius Chambers High School. Vance, which opened in 1997, was named after Zebulon B. Vance, a former North Carolina governor and U.S. senator, who also owned slaves and was a soldier in the Confederate army during the Civil War. 

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"My father was a champion for civil rights and it didn't matter what color you are, what sex, what gender, he believed in everyone having equal rights and equal opportunities to make it in America," Chambers said. 

CMS, like the city of Charlotte itself, has moved to change the names of buildings and streets that reflect the changes going on throughout the country. 

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"Folks like the former namesake of the school were certainly important people in North Carolina's history," said Charlotte City Councilman Larken Egleston. "We need to know that history and teach it, but when we look back and realize some of the things that they did so wrong, I don't think we need to honor somebody like that. Julius Chambers deserves that honor, and I'm glad he's getting it today."

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