Virginia high school named for Robert E. Lee to be renamed in honor of Rep. John Lewis

John Lewis.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Robert E. Lee High School in Fairfax County, Virginia, has a new name: John R. Lewis High School.

In late June, the Fairfax County School Board voted to change the school's name so it was no longer honoring the Confederate general. The board spent the last several weeks trying to come up with a new name, and decided to pay tribute to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), following his death last Friday at the age of 80 from cancer. Lewis spoke at the March on Washington in 1963, and survived a beating by Alabama state troopers as he led a Selma to Montgomery protest march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

"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," Fairfax County School Board Chair Ricardy Anderson said in a statement Thursday. "We will also honor his life's work by continuing to promote equity, justice, tolerance, and service in the work that we do."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

During the recent anti-racism protests that swept the country, there were renewed calls for Confederate statues and monuments to be removed and for schools named after Confederate figures to be renamed. Tamara Derenak Kaufax, a Fairfax County School Board member, said in a statement Confederate values "do not align with our community," and she believes Lewis' "extraordinary life and advocacy for racial justice will serve as an inspiration to our students and community for generations to come."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.