Robert E. Lee high school renamed after late civil rights icon John Lewis

The move comes amid continued calls from activists and politicians to take down monuments dedicated to Confederate generals. 

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Robert E. Lee High School in Fairfax, VA, the eleventh largest school district in the nation, is finally getting a long overdue name change. 

The new name: John R. Lewis High School, after the late civil rights icon. 

Fairfax County’s school board voted  unanimously on Thursday to rename the school after the beloved congressman. The new name goes into effect for the 2020-21 school year, USA Today reports. 

The move comes amid continued calls from activists and politicians to take down monuments across the country that are dedicated to racists, white supremacists and Confederate generals. 

Read More: Rep. Jim Clyburn recalls his last conversation with friend John Lewis

“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,” Board chair Ricardy Anderson said in a statement. “We will also honor his life’s work by continuing to promote equity, justice, tolerance and service in the work that we do.”

Representative Tamara Derenak Kaufax, the board member who first proposed the name change in February, said in the release Thursday that Confederate values “do not align with our community.”

“Our schools must be places where all students, staff, and members of the community feel safe and supported,” Kaufax said. “I believe that John Lewis’ extraordinary life and advocacy for racial justice will serve as an inspiration to our students and community for generations to come.”

Lewis died Friday at the age of 80 following a monthslong battle with cancer.

Read More: Sen. Nikema Williams to replace John Lewis on November ballot

theGrio previously reported, he passed as the nation is grappling with racial tensions and civil unrest over police brutality.

Lewis was the last living speaker at the march on Washington which he helped organize in 1963. The documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble delved into his life of activism.

Last month, Lewis attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Washington despite his sickness.

“We must say, ‘Wake up, America! Wake up!’ For we cannot stop, and we will not and cannot be patient,” said Lewis.

In related news, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday that Lewis will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. 

An invitation-only ceremony will be held on Monday (July 27) at 1:30 p.m. The public can pay their respects on the front steps of the Capitol from 6 pm to 10 p.m. and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. , per CBS News. Social distancing will be enforced and masks are required.

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