Letters to the Editor:

November 14, 2013 12:37 PM6 comments

J.E.B. Stuart High School Should Change Its Name

Editor,

In 1859 at Harper’s Ferry, J.E.B. Stuart knocked abolitionist John Brown out cold, taking his knife as a trophy. Disabling and disarming this visionary abolitionist was Stuart’s most enduring and symbolic legacy, earning him renewed glorification during Virginia’s Massive Resistance movement 100 years later.

In 1959, Fairfax County named its newest high school to glorify the Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart whose entire military career was dedicated to the perpetuation of slavery. He had no specific connection to Fairfax County or the school. Adding insult to injury this school name was a belligerent parting shot – a cheeky way to spit in the face of the civil rights movement. It is no coincidence that Fairfax County in 1959 also named the other new high school for Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The high school’s rebel themed mascot, the Raiders, shows the confederate general on a charging horse with a battle flag with the implication that the south will rise again through armed rebellion

We must now mute these schools’ names that speak to each new generation with the savage vocabulary of ancient prejudice using the syntax of white supremacy. This isn’t political so much as it is symbolic – a way to help black children escape the oppressive names and legacies of those who fought to keep slavery and segregation.

Demand that Fairfax County change the name of these schools.

Jeff Parker

Falls Church

 


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  • Joe

    Changing the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School would do nothing but open up a can of worms. The next thing you know, pacifists will want to rename George C. Marshall High School because of his role as Army Chief of Staff during World War II. Others may want to rename Edgar Allan Poe Middle School due to the poet’s struggles with alcohol. Perhaps some would want to rename Thomas A. Edison High School since he invented the incandescent light bulb, now shunned by today’s environmentalists. Once unleashed, where would such “politically correct” madness end?

    • JFallsChurch

      How about Terry McCauliffe High or Obama High School?

  • JFallsChurch

    Robert E Lee High School and Washington and Lee High School are some others.

    Not sure Yorktown is appropriate either…named after a bloody battle..albeit an important victory.

  • Falls Church Resident

    Jeff Parker’s letter notes claims that J.E.B. Stuart had “no specific connection” to Fairfax County. In fact, J.E.B. Stuart High School is right in the vicinity of Munson Hill, where Col. Stuart moved his troopers following First Manassas and commanded the Confederate position closest to Washington, DC. As explained on a historical marker along Leesburg Pike, within half a mile of the high school, “From his camp, Stuart watched Union observers ascend in balloons to study him. Stuart built ‘Quaker cannons’ made of logs and had his men march before large campfires to confound the generals.” A massive Confederate flag flown from Munson Hill could be seen in Washington, DC, causing consternation in the Federal City. It was while encamped there that Stuart was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. The encampment may well have extended to the school grounds.
    Having the school name honor J.E.B. Stuart connects the school to the history of its surrounding area. Too often, in this day and age, there is a disconnect in which people feel no tangible connection to the community, which must include the community’s past. Little things like place names help in this. Our citizens might feel more of a connection if they knew that Little Falls Street was an Indian trail connecting the area to the Little Falls of the Potomac, or that West, Shreve, Ellison, and many other streets are named after the families whose land the streets traversed.

  • vseidita

    I agree with Jeff Parker’s letter. There are some aspects of Virginia history that we are better off leaving in the past. This not so subtle message from the school board was just as wrong in 1959 as it is today. Luckily today, the small misguided minority that want to continue to glorify the cause of those who advocated first slavery and later segregation do so anonymously.

    • JFallsChurch

      why stop there….lets change any town, city, street name that references that part of Virginia history.

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