Story at a glance

  • Two Virginia schools will change their names to cut ties with former slaveholders.
  • Both Thomas Jefferson and George Mason are considered “Founding Fathers” of the U.S.
  • A plethora of institutions have been renamed in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Two schools in Falls Church, Va., will undergo name changes to shed the racist connotations associated with their present namesakes. 

George Mason High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School will be renamed following a 10-month long decision process from the Falls Church City School Board, local outlets report.

The district confirmed on Twitter that Thomas Jefferson Elementary will be called Oak Street Elementary, its original name, which is “evoking a sense of place and recognizing how trees are important natural elements of Falls Church.”

George Mason High will henceforth be called Meridian High School.

The school board made the decision following results from a community survey, despite the fact that the survey found broad support for keeping the names of the founding fathers intact. 

“The Board can’t thank the Falls Church Community enough,” said Board Chair Shannon Litton. “This is a passionate community with a lot of thoughts and ideas. It has been an emotional experience. We received hundreds of comments and suggestions, and we appreciate each and everyone.” 

Both Thomas Jefferson and George Mason, two historical figures considered “Founding Fathers” of the U.S., were slave owners. 

Following the Black Lives Matter protests beginning in May 2020, dozens of institutions were renamed to eliminate any ties with systemic racism, discrimination and slavery. 

From New Jersey’s Princeton University to 44 San Francisco schools, changing institution and building names has become tantamount to removing Confederate-era statues and monuments, acting as a show of solidarity to civil rights. 


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Published on Apr 28, 2021