Virginia board changes school’s name from Robert E. Lee to John Lewis

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FILE – Fairfax County Public Schools was considering renaming Robert E. Lee High School before Governor Ralph Northam closed schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s largest school system is removing the name of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from one of its high schools in favor of the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

The Fairfax County School Board approved the change during a meeting Thursday. A news release posted on the school district’s website says the new name will be effective for the 2020-21 school year.

“The Board heard from students, teachers and staff members, families, and the community about the old name,” School Board Chair Ricardy Anderson said in the release.  “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.” 

Other names under consideration included Barack Obama, Cesar Chavez, Mildred Loving, Central Springfield and Legacy.

“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,” Anderson said. “We will also honor his life’s work by continuing to promote equity, justice, tolerance and service in the work that we do.

The change comes nearly three years after the school system removed the name of Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart from another high school.

Lewis, a civil rights icon, died last week.

Nexstar Media Wire contributed to this story.

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