Former congressman John Lewis lost a battle with cancer on July 17, 2020.
Less than a week after the death of congressman John Lewis, a Virginia High School has announced it will be renamed in honor of the Civil Rights icon.
According to CNN, the Fairfax County School Board held a one-month period of public comment opening up suggestions for new names, the school was previously named after the historic figure Robert E. Lee. A virtual town hall and a public hearing were held before voting to alter the school’s name on Thursday to John R. Lewis High School.
School board member Tamara Derenak Kaufax who proposed the name change shared the following with CNN affiliate WJLA :
“The name Robert E. Lee is forever connected to the Confederacy, and Confederate values are ones that do not align with our community. We heard from so many community members, students, and alumni about the amazing things that John Lewis did during his life. And I think many people would be proud to have that as the name of their school. I think it would be an honor for the community as well as I hope, the congressman’s family.”
Lewis’ death was a shocking moment that grabbed media attention last week as the nation faces the COVID-19 pandemic. He died after a six-month battle with cancer. Lewis was most known for his leadership during the Civil Rights era where he worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and also joined the Freedom Riders. For three decades he served as the representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district.
The school board shared the official name change will be effective for the 2020-2021 school year.
Y’all, we just renamed Robert E. Lee High School to John Lewis High School.
When I was the education chair of @FairfaxNAACP in 2019, we were told we would never remove Lee from this community.
We proved that we are this community. Step up and speak out, everyone!
— Sean Perryman (@SeanPerryman3) July 23, 2020
Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind @robyn_mowatt.