Superintendent Scott Brabrand recommended several possible replacement names, including Barack Obama, John Lewis and Mildred Loving

By Eric Todisco
June 24, 2020 10:32 AM
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The Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, Virginia.

The school county said in a statement on Tuesday that the high school will no longer be named after the Confederate general, who was the commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

“It’s the very least we can do,” one board member said, according to local news outlet WJLA.

A community and public hearing will be held on July 15 before the school board votes on July 23 on a new name that will go into effect for the 2020-2021 school year.

“The Confederate values are ones that do not align with our community,” said Board Vice Chair Tamara Derenak Kaufax, who made the motion calling for a vote to change the name with at-large member Karen Keys-Gamarra. “I have seen the pain and the hurt that these names have inflicted on friends and colleagues and community members. Our schools need to be places where all students, staff, and members of the community feel safe and supported.”

Superintendent Scott Brabrand recommended six possible replacement names: John Lewis, Barack Obama, Mildred Loving, Cesar Chavez, Legacy and Central Springfield.

The school board could vote for one of Brabrand's recommendations next month, or opt for an entirely different name.

Robert E. Lee monument on June 20, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia.
Eze Amos/Getty

The decision comes as Confederate statues across the country, Virginia included, have been vandalized and destroyed amid the protests against police brutality and racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced earlier this month that the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond would be removed as soon as possible and placed in storage. The statue is currently graffitied with several signs reading phrases like, "Say Their Names" and "Know Justice Know Peace" placed in front of the monument.

However, a Richmond judge issued a 10-day injunction on the governor’s order due to a lawsuit seeking to stop the removal. A spokeswoman for the governor said the judge's decision is under review, according to NPR.

"Gov. Northam remains committed to removing this divisive symbol from Virginia's capital city, and we're confident in his authority to do so," she said.

Following the news of the injunction, Northam tweeted out a promise that the statue will be removed, writing, "Make no mistake: it will come down.”

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond