Virginia school board sued after reinstating Confederate leaders' names at two public high schools

The Virginia chapter of the NAACP and a group of students issuing the Shenandoah County School Board, after it voted last month to reinstate the names of two schools that were formerly named for Confederate generals.

Virginia NAACP President Rev. Cozy Bailey called the reversal the state’s “commitment to White supremacy and the celebration of a race-based rebellion.”

“My belief is the Shenandoah County School Board reaffirmed their commitment to White supremacy and the celebration of a race-based rebellion against the United States of America with their vote to name public schools after military leaders of the Confederate States of America,” Bailey said in a press release.

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A Virginia school board approved renaming Mountain View High School and Honey Run Elementary School to their prior Confederate names, Stonewall Jackson High School and Ashby Lee Elementary School. (Mountain View High School)

The board voted 5–1 on May 10 to rename Mountain View High School and Honey Run Elementary School to their previously controversial names — Stonewall Jackson High School and Ashby Lee Elementary School.

This reversal may be the first of its kind, The Associated Press reports.

The schools names were first changed in 2020.

The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday said that the school board’s decision to reverse the school’s name “intended to communicate to Black students that they were not welcome.”

“By naming these schools ‘Stonewall Jackson’ and ‘Ashby Lee,’ names that represented an embrace of those Confederate leaders’ pro-slavery and White supremacist views, Defendant School Board intended to communicate to Black students that they were not welcome,” the lawsuit said.

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Bailey argued the return of the high school’s original names would communicate “inescapable reminders of Confederate legacies.”

“When students walk through the halls of renamed Stonewall Jackson High School and Ashby Lee Elementary School, they will do so with inescapable reminders of Confederate legacies that enslaved and discriminated against African-descended people,” Bailey said. “This community deserves better.”

The Virginia NAACP filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Shenandoah County’s school board over its recent reinstatement of Confederate military names to two schools. (AP Photo/Steve Helber/File)

The complaint also said that the renaming violates students’ First Amendment rights, the federal Equal Education Opportunities Act, and the Equal Protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment.

“The Confederate school names and mascots represent a particular ideological view that Black people are inferior and that is pro-slavery and that endorses current-day White Supremacist movements,” the lawsuit said. “Among the well-known values of the Confederacy are the vehement defense of the institution of slavery and the treatment of Black individuals as inferior. The use of Stonewall Jackson “Generals” imbues the name with the Confederacy’s racist, pro-slavery ideologies.”

A crew removes the statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson in Richmond, Va., in July 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber/File)

Marja Plater, senior counsel for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, said that the reversal “exposes” children to “persistent racism and hate” that will impact their emotional health.

“A Black high schooler who wants to play on the soccer team must wear the Stonewall Jackson ‘Generals’ uniform. The student must honor a Confederate leader who fought to keep Black people in chains as slaves,” Plater said in a press release.”Exposing children to this persistent racism and hate harms their self-worth and long-term health.”

Fox News Digital has reached out to the Virginia NAACP and the Shenandoah County School Board for comment.

Sarah Rumpf-Whitten is a breaking news writer for Fox News Digital and Fox Business. 

She is a native of Massachusetts and is based in Orlando, Florida.

Story tips and ideas can be sent to [email protected] and on X: @s_rumpfwhitten.

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