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Mosby Heritage Group Changes Name To 'Accurately Capture' Mission

Patch logo Patch 8/1/2020 Mark Hand
a path surrounded by trees: The Mosby Heritage Area Association changed its name to better reflect its mission to protect historical resources in Loudoun County and neighboring counties. © Shutterstock The Mosby Heritage Area Association changed its name to better reflect its mission to protect historical resources in Loudoun County and neighboring counties.

NORTHERN VIRGINIA, VA — The Mosby Heritage Area Association has changed its name to one that reflects the broad scope of its mission, the organization said this week. The organization, based in Fauquier County, will now be known as the Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area Association.

The organization chose the Mosby name when it was founded 25 years ago as a geographical marker, not to honor John Mosby, the Confederate cavalry commander. The organization provides educational programming as a way to protect historical resources in Loudoun, Fauquier, Clarke, Prince William and Warren counties.

These counties mark a large part of the area where Mosby's Rangers operated during the Civil War. But the mission of the group did not include celebrating the life of Mosby and his exploits as a military commander for the Confederacy, although the organization has focused on the region's relationship to the Civil War.

The organization said Tuesday in a news release that after significant discussions it has "decided to respectfully retire our name and adopt one that more accurately captures the broad scope of our mission to highlight all the diverse history, from the time of the Native Americans through the twentieth century, that has taken place in the Heritage Area."

The name change comes as Virginia and local governments in Northern Virginia remove Confederate statues and rename schools that have honored those who fought for the Confederacy. The changes have followed the May 25 death of George Floyd at the knee of Minneapolis police officer, which sparked nationwide protests for racial justice and a reckoning on the nation's long history of mistreatment of people of color.

The Mosby Heritage Area Association had been considering changing its name for the past few years, long before the current movement to take down statues and rename schools honoring the Confederacy.

Four years ago, the organization adopted a new logo intended to better reflect its mission of highlighting the broad historic significance of the region, not just the area’s relationship to the Civil War. The former logo featured an image of a man on a horse, in homage to the history area’s namesake Col. John Singleton Mosby and his famed Civil War rangers, Margaret Morton reported for Loudoun Now.

Richard Gillespie, the former executive director of the organization and its current historian emeritus, told Morton in 2016 that the organization hoped the new logo would illustrate the richness and diversity of those who populated the region. But he added that in some quarters “we are [seen as] only a Mosby or Civil War organization.”

Gillespie told Morton that there would be no change in the nonprofit’s mission, which has focused on “preservation through education” from its beginnings in 1995.

The Mosby Heritage Area Association's decision to change it name comes a month after the Loudoun County School Board voted to remove Raiders as the nickname for Loudoun County High School in Leesburg in response to the name's association with John Mosby, a Confederate colonel during the American Civil War.

Since 1954, the LCHS' nickname had been Raiders, which many believe is a reference to the Confederate Army unit led by Mosby known as Mosby's Rangers, which is sometimes referred to as Mosby's Raiders.

In an interview with Patch, Gillespie, who spent 30 years as a history teacher at Loudoun Valley High School, said that in his extensive research on John Mosby, he does not remember finding any references to Mosby's men being called raiders during the Civil War. Instead, they were known as Mosby's Rangers.

On its website, the newly named Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area Association states that its mission is "to educate and advocate for the preservation of the extraordinary historic landscape and culture of the Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area for future generations."

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