The Prince William County Human Rights Commission is asking the board of county supervisors adopt a new county seal that better reflects the county’s diversity.
The Prince William County seal was adopted in 1935 and features a white hand holding scales evenly balanced over a stalk of tobacco.
The human rights commission voted unanimously Thursday, Sept. 10 to adopt a resolution stating: “The current seal contains and depicts elements that are inconsistent with the values of our community,” including both the tobacco leaf and the hand, which is white.
Commissioners wrote that the tobacco leaf’s uses are “widely discouraged and proven harmful to the health of residents and not an element to be promoted.” They added that the “Caucasian hand … is not representative of our richly diverse community comprised of a majority of residents of color.”
“The residents of Prince William County deserve a seal that represents a unified community, celebrates diversity and promotes positive values,” the resolution said.
Human Rights Commissioner Evelyn BruMar said Monday that the county seal “doesn’t match who we are today.”
BruMar added that as the county changes school and road names, she believes the county should also change the look of public documents that include the county seal. Earlier this summer, the Prince William County School Board changed the names of Stonewall Jackson High School and Stonewall Middle to Unity Reed High School and Unity Braxton Middle School.
Both new names honor revered local Black residents: Arthur Reed, a high school security guard who died in 2018, and Carroll and Celestine Braxton, a Manassas couple who were local civil rights trailblazers. Celestine Braxton, who died in 2014, was one of a second wave of Black teachers who helped integrate county schools in the 1960s. Carroll Braxton, 96, was among the first Black men to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1940s. Both took part in efforts to desegregate businesses in Prince William County.
“Why not continue that theme of diversity?” BruMar said.
During the Sept. 7-8 meeting of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, Chair Ann Wheeler, D-At Large, issued a directive to county staff to begin looking into what it would take to change the county seal.
Wheeler said the county seal “represents the identity of the community and of the stakeholders.”
“It's my belief … that the time has come to perhaps revisit the branding of our community to make it a little bit more inclusive and reflective of our multi-cultural diversity,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said on Monday, Sept. 14, that the board likely will not take up the review of the county seal until later this year or early 2021.