You may have heard of the effort to renamed J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church, VA to Thurgood Marshall High School. Here’s a good news story on the effort.
This effort is not an outgrowth of the Charleston, South Carolina shootings. The students began the effort in May, prior to the shootings. The article tells us, “The students at J.E.B. Stuart had started their campaign even before the shooting. They were inspired after learning in their history class about Stuart and about the massive resistance movement in the 1950s.” The high school opened in 1959, in the midst of white southern massive resistance to desegregation of schools. As we find out in the story, “Those advocating for its name to be dropped believe the school was purposely named after a Confederate general in response and in opposition to desegregation.”
Since the Charleston shootings, some high-profile alumni of the school joined the effort to change the name. Julianne Moore. a 1978 graduate, and Bruce Cohen, a 1979 graduate, support changing the school’s name. The two wrote in a joint statement, “No one should have to apologize for the name of the public high school you attended and the history of racism it represents, as we and so many alumni of Stuart have felt the need to do our whole lives.”
Stuart was a slave owner and an officer who fought for the confederacy, an entity whose purpose was to preserve slavery and white supremacy.
George Alber, speaking for the local NAACP [The Fairfax County NAACP is allied with the students and alumni], said, “We’re not trying to re-write or erase history. There’s plenty of room for history in the museums. It’s fitting that a school this diverse should carry a different name, not a name for someone who fought and died to preserve slavery and let’s face it, racism.”
One of the students behind the campaign said, “People will say you can’t erase history and we say back that this is nothing to do with changing the past, we’re not telling you to get rid of anything in the textbook. We’re telling you that we want from now and into the future a school to be an environment where the students can feel more comfortable and can be completely proud of all the symbols representing them.”
They believe Thurgood Marshall is a good choice to replace Stuart because Justice Marshall lived in the area and was one of the school’s neighbors from 1968 to his 1993 death. His was, in fact, one of the first African-American families to live in the area [in their own home] “to the dismay of some at the time.”
You can see and, if you wish, sign the online petition calling for the change here.
Where do you stand on this?