A high school in Fairfax County, Virginia named after Confederate general Robert E. Lee is poised to change its name to honor the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who was at the forefront of the fight for civil rights.
The county school board voted for the change on Thursday after a month of discussions with students, school faculty and the rest of community.
“It was important for us to be mindful of these comments and to select a name that reflected the diversity and multiculturalism that currently exists at the school and in our community,” board chair Ricardy Anderson said in a statement. “Rep. Lewis was a champion of the Civil Rights movement, and our Board strongly believes this is an appropriate tribute to an individual who is a true American hero.”
Tamara Derenak Kaufax, one of the board members who led the charge, asserted in a statement that the “Confederate values” tied to Lee’s name “are ones that do not align with our community.”
“Our schools must be places where all students, staff, and members of the community feel safe and supported,” she said.
The board’s decision is a thread in the nation’s reckoning with systemic racism against Black Americans in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Amid the unrest, Confederate memorials and icons, particularly those established on government property, are being widely recognized as symbols of white supremacy.