FCPS Schools To Be Renamed

Kara Lynch, News Editor

Virginia is a state with plenty of history. From Jamestown to Washington D.C., many stories can be told about civil rights and wars and the early history of the United States. Though during the beginning years of our nation’s growth however there was much controversy over one subject matter: racism. Your education depended on your skin color. 

Students were segregated according to the Jim Crow Laws. White children attended high achieving schools while minorities were forced to participate in schools with less resources. It wasn’t until the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 that segregated schools were ruled unconstitutional. Since then most schools now have more diversity, though that depends on their geographical location. Although school segregation is mostly a thing of the past, schools that house names of Confederate soldiers and segregationists are not. 

Robert E. Lee was a famous confederate general who led the South throughout the Civil War and surrendered to the Union after the Battle of Appomattox. Aside from being a Confederate general, Lee was also a slave owner who resisted abolition.  Because of the contributions Lee made to Southern Union, Robert E. Lee High School was founded in 1958. 

Recently students, teachers, and members of the Robert E. Lee community raised concern about the dated and insensitive name. In interviews with local news stations students said the name was “embarrassing” and “old” as 80 percent of the school’s population consist of minorities. The uproar of the name change caught the attention of the FCPS board who changed the name on June 23, of 2020 at a community meeting. Robert E. Lee High School is now renamed as John R.Lewis High School.

Photo Courtesy of ABC 7 News.

Lewis was an activist for Civil Rights and served in the United States House for Georgia’s 5th congressional district for 33 years until his death. In an interview with NBC, FCPS board chairman Ricardy Anderson 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.”

In February of 2021, Mosby Woods Elementary was also renamed. John S. Mosby, the namesake, was a Confederate general during the Civil War who owned slaves. When selecting a new title for the elementary school the school board chose for the school not to have a namesake. Instead they renamed the school Mosaic Elementary.  The reason being, according to the school board is that, “Mosaic is a wonderful symbol and representation of our community,” and, “The word mosaic would represent the core of this school. The school is a cultural mosaic. With a mix of different cultures, languages and ethnicities that all belong.” 

There has also been a movement to rename W.T. Woodson. Wilbert Tucker Woodson, the namesake, was superintendent for FCPS for 30 years from 1929-1961. He accomplished many things such as raising teacher pay and increasing pupil population.  

During Woodson’s time as superintendent, segregation was in play. The Washington Post states that he was a gradualist and urged “that black and white children begin going to school together in the first grade and continue together thereafter.”  

Because of the misconceptions of Woodson’s views, a handful of students and community members have made petitions, found on Change.org, to urge the renaming of Woodson. There are recent ones as well as petitions that date back to January of 2020. The petitions state that the name brings “racial injustice” and “makes people of other ethnicity groups feel unwelcome and uncomfortable.” The petitions claim false information on W.T.Woodson making them only a reliable source for opinions but not for facts. There has been no official suggestions or name changes to W.T. Woodson High School.