A high school in Virginia is getting a new name to honor the late Congressman John Lewis. Robert E. Lee high school, named for the Confederate General, was officially renamed John Lewis High School following his death on July 17.
Members of the Fairfax County School Board members revealed the new name on Thursday, according to WJLA. "Last night, we heard from so many community members, students, and alumni about the amazing things that John Lewis did during his life," said School Board Member Tamara Derenak Kaufax. "And I think many people would be proud to have that as the name of their school. I think it would be an honor for the community as well as I hope, the congressman's family."
The vote to change the name was unanimous and was done to honor Lewis' legacy as a civil rights icon. While Lewis passed away from Stage IV pancreatic cancer at the age of 80, his name was on the school district's shortlist before his death. However, there was a renewed push to rename it after Lewis posthumously.
"The Board heard from students, teachers, and staff members, families, and the community about the old name," School Board Chair Ricardy Anderson said. "It was important for us to be mindful of these comments and to select a name that reflected the diversity and multiculturalism that currently exists at the school and in our community. 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. We will also honor his life's work by continuing to promote equity, justice, tolerance and service in the work that we do."
As part of Lewis' memorial services, he crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, one final time Sunday during a memorial in his home state of Alabama Sunday morning. The flag-draped casket was pulled across the bridge, with rose petals on the ground symbolizing the blood that had been spilled on that very bridge during the civil rights protests back in 1965.
Lewis and a number of other activists made history in March of that year as they marched from Selma to Montgomery to draw national attention to much-needed reforms for voting rights in the state. As activists clashed with the police, including Lewis, the day was commemorated as Bloody Sunday. They returned a few days later to complete their march to Montgomery, and their movement led to the Voting Rights Act of 1966.