A statute of confederacy


In 1865, The Civil War ended and the United States was united again. While slavery has been long gone, its unsightly past manifests itself in Virginia. When a report by the Wall Street Journal showed an unearthed image from Governor Ralph Northam’s old medical school yearbook showing his page with a photo of two people, one in a Ku Klux Klan hood and another in blackface, concerns of a racist past thrust Virginia into the national spotlight. The state is still dotted with places named after Confederate leaders, including in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, where there stands a statue of a confederate statue with its back facing Washington D.C. What is being done to shift Virginia into the 21st century?

 In 2017,  J.E.B. Stuart High School had its name changed to Justice by a 7-4 school board vote, according to FCPS. Stuart, a native Virginian, was a general in the confederate army. The school opened in 1959, during racial integration, and the school board selected that name to show their distaste for what was going on, per The Washington Post . However, schools like Robert E. Lee in Springfield and Stonewall Jackson in Manassas, and even community hotspots like Jefferson Davis Highway and Robert E. Lee Rec Center continue to bear the names of Confederate leaders.

“I think we’re moving towards getting both of those schools renamed,” U.S. History and Combating Intolerance teacher Robert Kerr said. “… it’s important because we are taking a look at our history. How sometimes it was much more troubled, and we can’t undo a lot of the wrongs, but we can highlight better parts of our nation’s history.” The new name, Justice, is derived from Barbara Rose Johns, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Col. Louis G. Mendez, Jr., who all fought for equal rights and inclusivity, according to FCPS.

As for the confederate soldier statue in Old Town, the city council voted unanimously to move the statue in 2017, but the Virginia state legislature has not allowed them to, according to Patricia Sullivan. The Senate of Virginia is only allowed to propose a certain number of bills every time they convene, so presenting a bill they know would not pass would not be a good use of one.

    While Virginia is full of history that is frowned upon, some areas have put forward effort to highlight those who have helped shape the positive environment we have today.