Virginia NAACP sues Shenandoah school board over reinstating Confederate names stripped after George Floyd killing

“The Virginia NAACP is bringing this lawsuit on behalf of its members and families, including students in the Shenandoah County school system,” the NAACP’s press release announcing the lawsuit reads. “The families whose children attend Shenandoah County Public Schools seek the removal of Confederate names and mascots and to prevent any future naming involving Confederate leaders.


The lawsuit comes after the school board voted to reverse a 2020 decision to change the schools’ names because they were linked to Confederate leaders. On May 10, the Shenandoah board voted 5-1 to reinstate the original names, with Mountain View High School going back to the name Stonewall Jackson High School and Honey Run Elementary School returning to the name Ashby-Lee Elementary School.

One board member, Thomas Street, explained the board’s decision. “How it was done in 2020, it was not done right,” Street said, criticizing the 2020 decision to discard the schools’ names for its lack of transparency and “knee-jerk” reaction.

The school board’s decision to revert to the original names came after the Coalition for Better Schools surveyed the situation, receiving overwhelming responses in favor of restoring the historic names.


In a letter to the school board in April, the coalition urged the county to comply with popular demand, saying: “Restoring these names would demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity, respect for history, and responsiveness to community feedback.” The letter wrote that the legacy of Stonewall Jackson, “while complex, remains an important part of our local history,” and identified Ashby and Lee as “prominent Virginians and local heroes.”

Crews work to remove one of the country’s largest remaining monuments to the Confederacy, a towering statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue, on Sept. 8, 2021, in Richmond, Virginia. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool)

Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Turner Ashby, the people for whom the schools are named, were Confederate generals during the Civil War. The majority of Virginians sided with the Confederacy during the conflict. An estimated 155,000 Virginian men joined the Confederate Army, compared to 32,000 who fought for the Union. A minimum of 25,000 American soldiers, from both the Confederate and Union sides, died in Virginia during the Civil War.

The initiative to remove Confederate memorabilia from the public eye surged after George Floyd’s death sparked the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement. In major cities across the nation, including Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, and Philadelphia, the movement often exploded into riots, violence, arson, and the destruction of private property.


According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, at least 160 Confederate symbols were removed from public spaces in 2020 alone.

A protester in favor of the monument weeps and is removed from the area as work crews remove the statue of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson on July 1, 2020, in Richmond, Virginia. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has ordered the immediate removal of all Confederate statues in the city, saying he was using his emergency powers to speed up the healing process for the former capital of the Confederacy amid weeks of protests over police brutality and racial injustice. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia has not been left behind. Monuments dismantled from the Old Dominion’s public space include the Arlington National Cemetery’s Confederate memorial, the last Confederate statue of Gen. A.P. Hill in Richmond, Virginia, a famed Richmond statue of Robert E. Lee, a monument to Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, and monuments to Jefferson Davis and J.E.B. Stuart.

The Washington Examiner reached out to the Shenandoah County School Board for comment.

* Original Article: