By Marcus Motta:
The Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously on Thursday July 23, to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School to John R. Lewis High School in honor of Civil Rights icon and Georgia Congressman John R. Lewis who passed away on July 17.
At a hearing on July 22, the public was allowed to give 3-minute speeches with recommendations for a new name. The most common selections were John R. Lewis, Legacy and Loving High School.
Some speakers thought the school should be named after a geographic location such as Springfield rather than a person, which might alienate people. Amy Marlow of the Fairfax NAACP countered in her speech that other schools in Fairfax County are named after individuals so why not this one, as “black names are just as worthy as white names.” She supported the NAACP position of naming the school after Lewis.
Kimberly Boateng said that she originally wanted the name to be Franconia High School but changed her position and now supported naming the school after Lewis. She thought that the school should be named after “someone who fought on the right side of history.”
At a previous meeting, Fairfax County Public Schools Supt. Scott Brabrand presented the Board with a list of possible names for the school, Congressman Lewis’ name was his number one choice.
School Board Vice Chair Tamara Derenak Kaufax of Lee District made the motion to change the name to John R. Lewis High School which was seconded by Karen Keys-Gamarra, at-large member which cleared the way for the unanimous vote.
Marcus R. Motta is a retired federal law enforcement officer with 32 years of service. He is a member of the Springfield District Democratic Committee.
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