On July 23, the Fairfax County School Board voted to rename Robert E. Lee High School after John R. Lewis, the late U.S. Congressman and civil-rights leader. The new name will take effect in the 2020-21 school year.
Rep. Lewis was the final surviving member of the “Big Six,” a civil rights activist group that included Martin Luther King Jr. and Roy Wilkins, and that was instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
After a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer, Lewis died on July 17 at the age of 80.
The Springfield High School, founded in 1958, was named after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The School Board voted to change the name of the school on June 23 and held a one-month period of public comment on possible new names, according to the FCPS website. A virtual town hall meeting was held on July 15 and a public hearing was held on July 22.
On July 23, the Board voted to rename the high school after Rep. Lewis.
School Board Chair Ricardy Anderson said that the Board heard from students, teachers and staff members, families, and the community about the school’s old name. “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 in our community,” she said.
“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,” said Anderson. “We will also honor his life’s work by continuing to promote equity, justice, tolerance and service in the work that we do.”
Lee District School Board member Tamara Derenak Kaufax, who proposed the name change along with at-large member Karen Keys-Gamarra, said that “the name Robert E. Lee is forever connected to the Confederacy, and Confederate values are ones that do not align with our community.
To view the full timeline of the renaming of the school, follow this link: https://www.fcps.edu/about-fcps/departments-and-offices/deputy-superintendents-office/region-3/robert-e-lee-high-1