Local Commentary

Name It for Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Were the name of one of the Falls Church city schools to be changed, and we’re not suggesting anything one way or another at this point, we couldn’t think of a better replacement than the name of our recently deceased national champion, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Of course, the legendary civil rights activist, the late Rep. John Lewis, also works, but his name has already been swiftly taken by the Fairfax School System to substitute for Confederate General Robert E. Lee as the name given for its Springfield high school.

It is very heartening to see the ongoing blossoming of young civil rights activism occurring in Falls Church in the midst of this powerful year of reckoning on issues of equality and equity. Presentations from five George Mason High and Henderson Middle School students before the virtual meeting of the F.C. School Board this Tuesday has underscored this. Abigail Crespin and Edith Jagerskog from Henderson and Umika Pathak, Charles Adams and Arian Hameed from Mason represented active campus groups, Students for Justice and the Social Justice Committee, at their respective schools, and also called attention to the high schools’ Black Student Union and and Gay-Straight Alliance.

The intelligent, motivated and articulate students, along with the high school’s Director of Equity and Inclusion Jennifer Santiago, were frank in identifying areas of need in the schools’ striving for equity and inclusion, citing the need for more positive interactions among Spanish speaking students and the rest of the student body.

Work on curriculum revisions coming out of the Virginia Department of Education in the wake of this year’s reckoning with Black Lives Matter and other public social mandates holds enormous promise, according to F.C. Schools Superintendent Peter Noonan. We are also eager to see what changes may be happening in the International Baccalaureate curriculum, given the Falls Church Schools are a K-12 IB system.

But the timing of the passing of the 87 year old Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week could not be more poignant for defining the struggle. Obviously, it gives President Trump and the Republicans a golden opportunity to stack the Supreme Court with another Neanderthal social conservative, and this is a terrible development. On the other hand, as it has led pro basketball star LeBron James and the “fearless girl” bronze statuette on Wall Street, among many others, to don the signature Ginsburg lace collar boldly in the public, in affirmation of Ginsburg’s amazing life’s work on behalf of equality and justice, then we catch a glimpse of the incredible potential for a positive expression and mobilization of the public zeal for justice and fairness.

So much this year has been motivated by deep pain and injustice that now, with the outpouring for Rep. Lewis and Justice Ginsburg, we still have pain, but the lace collar signifies something transcendent, made famous by a diminutive legal scholar and terrible force for good.