Keep the Name of J.E.B. Stuart High School

Times change. Still, that does not justify the application of 2016 values by the Fairfax County Public Schools Board and others to the life of General J.E.B Stuart who lived amidst the culture and mores of the America of 150 years ago.  Stuart’s legacy surpasses his participation in the Civil War and serves as a lesson to the generations, which is reason enough to keep our high school bearing his name. 

Stuart the Man

What does history tell us about J.E.B. Stuart?  What kind of a man was he? For starters, his loving and respectful relationship with his father, Archibald Stuart, as revealed in family letters, exhibits his true character.  Wrote the elder Stuart as J.E.B. was about to assume his place in the Union Army upon graduation from West Point:

“It is true that you have, to start with, good morals fortified by religion, a good temper, and a good constitution, which if preserved will carry you through the trial safely.  But the temptations of a camp to a young man of sanguine temperament, like yourself, are not to be trifled with or despised.  I conjure you to be constantly on your guard, repelling and avoiding the slightest approach towards vice or immorality.”

J.E.B. Stuart was not a politician.  He was not a major landowner and cared little about slavery.  He was a soldier through and through.  His love and devotion to military service to his nation were his highest ambition.  In fact, he served in the Union army for approximately six years in campaigns and battles as far west as Kansas and Texas until the coming of the Civil War.  And his bravery and cunning as a strategist, as well as his flair for chivalry and costume, made him a heroic figure who attained national acclaim. 

Stuart’s strategic ability and charisma were recognized early on by Robert E. Lee when he served as Superintendent of the West Point Military Academy.  Stuart went on to become one of Lee’s most trusted aides in the Confederate Army, and within a year of joining the Virginia Infantry at the outbreak of the Civil War, he rose from the rank of Captain of Cavalry to Brigadier General.

The Civil War is the most devastating conflict in American history, taking a toll of lives on both sides that was staggering in proportion to the total population of the country.  It even pitted family members against each other, and while J.E.B. Stuart felt an obligation to serve his home state of Virginia at a time when “states rights” was still a powerful motivating force in public policy, his own father-in-law opted to remain in service with the Union Army. 

According to the Virginia Historical Society, following the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee devoted his remaining years to the cause of reconciliation.  “He preached submission to authority, promoted political harmony, and became president of Washington College to prepare the next generation of southern men to become useful citizens.”

No one knows what J.E.B. Stuart might have done following the War.  He never got the chance because in 1864 he forfeited his life in battle at the age of 31.  He died as he lived.  His legacy is perhaps well-described by author Jeffry D. Wert, an American historian specializing in the Civil War, who wrote of him:

“Stuart had been the Confederacy's knight-errant, the bold and dashing cavalier, attired in a resplendent uniform, plumed hat, and cape. Amid a slaughterhouse, he had embodied chivalry, clinging to the pageantry of a long-gone warrior. He crafted the image carefully, and the image befitted him. He saw himself as the Southern people envisaged him. They needed a knight; he needed to be that knight.”

The Civil War, Slavery & Lincoln

Slavery as an institution has a sordid past.  Many aspects of the trade involved Northerners who made money transporting slaves, Europeans of various countries who brought slaves to great portions of Central and South America, and even African consorts who rounded up unsuspecting victims from neighboring tribes and sold them to buyers of all sorts.  And some free American blacks also owned slaves.

In the South, it is estimated that only about 5% of wealthy landowners owned nearly 95% of all slaves, and yet the “plow boys” and Southern commoners who had no slaves at all, as well as thousands of black persons, filled the ranks of the Confederate Army.

It is true that Abraham Lincoln “freed” slaves through his issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.  But his doing so was not focused on abolishing slavery but rather employing every means at his disposal to save the Union.  In fact, in a letter written to Horace Greeley dated August 22, 1862, Lincoln said:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery.  If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

Stuart’s Legacy

People living then as now came in all shades and flavors of opinion on the major issues of the day.  J.E.B. Stuart’s life was devoted to public service in the military, a calling involving great personal sacrifice and danger.  In 1859, Stuart received a patent for a new piece of cavalry equipment designed as an “improved method of attaching sabers to belts.” He received a purchase contract for his invention from the U.S. Government.  Stuart developed Quaker Gun military deception strategies that he employed at Munson Hill to discourage Union forces from advancing.  This served as inspiration for deception tactics used in WWII D-Day maneuvers. The British named their M3 and M5 American tanks after Stuart. Modifications of his deception tactics are still studied globally.

The Slippery Slope of Airbrushing History

Consider this:  J.E.B. Stuart High School is located in “Mason District.”  George Mason owned slaves.  And the school is located in “Fairfax County.”  Lord Fairfax owned slaves.  And the school is located in the “Commonwealth of Virginia”.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe owned slaves. 

And, J.E.B. Stuart High School is located in the United States of America.  Slavery at one time could be found throughout the country.  According to the Hauenstein Center of Grand Valley State University, even Ulysses S. Grant, who accepted General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, owned slaves.  And while Abraham Lincoln was prosecuting the Civil War, he lived in a White House staffed by slaves.

These are important lessons to learn and know.  They are not reason to expunge from the history books the names of mortal men who achieved virtuous public service but held imperfect philosophies as measured by contemporary standards. 

The object of an education is to learn history and more important to learn from history, not to deny history or wipe out its story.  Students attending J.E.B. Stuart High School today reflect extraordinary cultural and racial diversity, and they are best served by learning about all aspects of America’s history and the people who helped shape the Nation we have today. 

If the maleficent efforts to destroy this American military servant’s reputation and legacy are successful and the Fairfax County School Board succumbs to the pressure of revisionist history by removing J.E.B. Stuart’s name from our local high school, it will demean the diploma of every student graduate of the school for the last half century. Additionally, if Stuart’s name is removed then the FCPS Board and other governing bodies better be prepared for a long and torturous path ahead.  Rather than promoting a common destiny going forward, those filled with vitriol and allegations will know no limit to their ferocity.   

The noted philosopher George Santayana penned one of the great truths of human history when he said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  

Let’s not condemn our children to this fate.  Sunshine is, after all, the best disinfectant.

Know the Allegations vs. Facts

The truth behind the naming of J.E.B. Stuart High School, and the prevailing wisdom of W.T. Woodson and the FCPS Board in the mid to late 1950s.

Two petitions and a few student advocates are calling for the renaming of J.E.B. Stuart High School.  One petition also calls for renaming Woodson and Lee high schools.  These petitions contain false statements and allegations that should be given no consideration. Consistently restating a false statement with vigor does not make it true.  These allegations represent public manipulation and revisionist history.  There is no compelling reason to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School.  There are many compelling reasons to keep it.

Could it be what George Orwell envisioned in his book “1984” is now happening in Fairfax County?

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

Not a “spit in the face:” The truth as to why the school is named for J.E.B. Stuart

Naming the school after J.E.B. Stuart was not a “spit in the face” to desegregation as student advocates and petitioners would have you believe.  The school was named after him because of its proximity to Munson Hill where Stuart employed his renowned Quaker Guns military deception. This strategy was used in WWII D-Day operations and continues to be respected by military experts throughout the world.

Evans’s  Resolution states that “the school was named for an individual prominent primarily in Virginia for his role in fighting for the Confederacy and all it stood for, including the despicable institution of slavery, and the school logo for many years was a horse and rider carrying the Confederate flag.”

The Civil War tested the U.S. Constitution.  At that point in time states were considered one’s country.  Virginia seceded.  Stuart resigned his commission in the U.S. Army and fought for “his country” – Virginia.  The record stands that J.E.B. Stuart fought for his Virginia, not slavery. He had little or no interest in slavery.

A Spit in the Face of survey respondents who said NO name change

The School Board spit in the face of a culturally diverse group of community members and students who responded to the surveys.  What was the purposed of the surveys if the results were preordained? 

The petitions and students advocating a name change do not reflect the opinions of the J.E.B. Stuart body or the neighboring communities. The J.E.B. Stuart student body survey revealed that a clear majority of students said NO to a name change when presented with two other choices.  

Even after a year of name change campaigning, a survey conducted by FCPS itself revealed that only 35% of respondents favored a name change. This survey was distributed to a diverse population throughout the pyramid via email and telephone in English, Spanish and Arabic. These results were presented at the May 23, 2016 Community Meeting held at J.E.B. Stuart High School.

Evans states in her Resolution that “community engagement to date has shown a mix of views on the idea of renaming the school, with the greatest concern expressed in being the potential cost to the school system and to booster organizations.”  

The surveys are ignored and no public hearing has been held.  Board Member Evans says she has read materials submitted to her, but by how many people?  Exactly how many people are represented by these actions?  There were 3414 stakeholder respondents to the FCPS survey.  Apparently the materials Evans read outweigh the survey results?  Additionally, why is the FCPS Board giving any consideration to a petition containing thousands of signatures from people across the nation who are not Stuart Pyramid stakeholders?

White landowners sold J.E.B.Stuart High School property to FCPS

One of the most heinous accusations in the petition and espoused by student advocates is the taking of land from poor black families on which to build J.E.B. Stuart High School. 

Fairfax County records verify that the high school property was purchased from descendants of a white couple, John and Virginia Payne, who bought the land in 1875.

Fairfax responded to integration rapidly and received federal funds

Evans’ Resolution states that “the first black students to attend J.E.B. Stuart High School were admitted in 1961, seven years after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, two years after the school opened in 1959 and a year after the U.S. District Court ruled that Fairfax County must integrate its schools in accordance with the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.”

Historical context is important in understanding how integration took place. Daniel L. Duke, author of “Education Empire” wrote, “Because Fairfax County responded more rapidly than other school systems in Virginia to the requirement for an approved desegregation plan, it qualified immediately for funds under the ESEA [federal funds].”

Duke made the point that “We'll never know if FFX county would have integrated on its own; they had no choice. The local option was taken away by Richmond.”

The flurry of lawsuits filed against Virginia by the NAACP included Fairfax and other the localities.  The School Boards were not at liberty to act unilaterally.  It was the Commonwealth that controlled “pupil placement applications.”

FCPS Board is poised to defame its predecessors by engaging in revisionism

The FCPS is now engaging in revisionism and libeling its predecessors. The Resolution states, “while we cannot know what was in the hearts and minds of Fairfax County School Board members in the naming of J.E.B. Stuart High School, the current Fairfax County School Board, responding to concerns raised by some current students, alumni and community members, regards the names as inappropriate for a Fairfax County public schools and not reflective of our diverse community.”

Newspaper articles and school board minutes from that time, as well as a first-hand testimony (page 4) from the son of Board Chairman Merton S. Parsons, disputes this claim. 

The Resolution claims that “few records exist from the time to indicate the rationale of the Fairfax County School Board in naming the school, previously referred to as the Munson Hill High School, after J.E.B. Stuart, other than the decision to name new high schools for ‘some prominent American, now deceased.’”

This is nonsense. The fact is that the records tell of citizenry requesting the naming of schools and evening offering names for consideration.  Even The Washington Post reported that Franconia and Springfield battled to have their names attributed to a school.  To end the squabble the Upper Pohick Community League suggested a choice of Fitzhugh or Lee.  Fitzhugh Lee once owned the property.

Why is Evans even second guessing the intentions of the honorable school board members of the 1950s?  One should also remember the context; the country was in the midst of preparations for the Civil War Centennial Celebration when these decisions were made.  

Appeasement is a failed policy

Evans’ Resolution is an attempted appeasement of a vocal minority who disregard the facts.

The Resolution she offers states that she is “responding to concerns raised by some current students, alumni and community members, the current Fairfax County School Board regards the name as inappropriate for a Fairfax County public school and not reflective of our diverse community.” 

In other words, U.S. and Virginia history is considered no longer relevant within our “diverse community.”

We must learn from history.  It teaches us that appeasement is a failed policy; appeasement failed to stop Hitler. 

Opening Pandora’s Box to rename any school

One of the petitions targets two other schools for a name change.  Changing the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School is a precedent. 

Appeasing revisionists by changing our high school name will simply encourage them in their demands.  What is to stop them in their pursuit of schools and entities named after American slave owners? What about Fairfax County? Lord Fairfax’s fortune was made from slave trade.  Appeasing the revisionists could not only bankrupt the school system, but the county itself.  Where does it stop? 

Provide context; teach history

It is simplistic and foolish to view history in the context of modern mores and values. Only by understanding the struggles of the past can we appreciate how they influenced and shaped the present.

Fairfax County’s population is highly diverse.  It is therefore essential that students from other parts of the world gain an understanding of the history of the country that has welcomed them.

The petitions before the Board requesting a name change for J.E.B. Stuart High School contain allegations that have no factual basis.

Allegation 1:  Fairfax County Superintendent of Schools W. T. Woodson was a prominent segregationist.

Fact 1:  No data exists to substantiate this claim.  Jeff Parsons, son of FCPS Board member Merton S. Parsons, wrote about the FCPS Board and Woodson.

On Tuesday, June 14, 2016 9:10 AM, Jeffrey Parsons wrote:

     “Yes, my father was on the Fairfax County School Board during the 1950s, including the period when I attended Fairfax High (Class of 1957).  My younger brother and sister also attended Fairfax County schools during this period.  My dad was a Maine farm boy, a life-long New Deal Democrat, who had a PhD from Cornell University in Agricultural Economics.  He was employed by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture from 1937 until his retirement in 1972. He was as honest and upright as any person I've ever known, and the very thought of him being associated with anything illegal or underhanded in any way, is simply inconceivable to me.  I know that he never would have countenanced secretly plotting with Mr. Woodson and other school board members to derail or denigrate the Civil Rights movement in Fairfax County schools, or to evade its rulings.

      I didn't know much about Mr. Woodson, but I remember a story Dad told me once that, some years earlier, he (Mr. Woodson) had been confronted at his home at night by the Ku Klux Klan for actions regarding public school policies he (Mr. Woodson) had taken.  My distinct impression from hearing this story was that Mr. Woodson had somehow incurred the wrath of the KKK.  I know that Dad regarded Mr. Woodson as an honorable man, and I have no reason to doubt that he was.  I also know that my father would never have served on a school board which acted in any kind of underhanded, illegal, or dishonest way.”

Jeffrey R. Parsons, Emeritus Professor & Emeritus Curator Dept. of Anthropology & Museum of Anthropology University of Michigan 

Northerners arrived in Fairfax County during WWII and the post war era boom.  Their mindset did not reflect those espoused in Richmond and some of the more southern areas of Virginia. 

After the Brown v. Board of Education ruling ordered immediate integration of schools, Arlington submitted an integration plan, which was not only rejected but the Commonwealth fired its school board. When the FCPS Board and Woodson submitted a plan to the Commonwealth of Virginia it was rejected.  The Commonwealth of Virginia was engaged in Massive Resistance to defy court-ordered desegregation and the Northern Virginia school systems were subject to Richmond’s wrath.

When the federal government selected Norfolk, Charlottesville and Front Royal to be the first schools to integrate, Virginia closed the schools and discontinued funding. Some were closed as long as five years.

Faced with the certainty of the forced closure of schools and curtailment of funding by the Commonwealth, the FCPS Board under Chairman Robert Davis decided to put the students’ education first by keeping the schools open.

An article in the Washington Afro-American Newspaper (November 22, 1955) contains a statement that says, “Public Schools are the greatest single asset of Virginia as well as every other community in the country. ‘Therefore we believe Virginia and all other Southern states should approach this problem with the attitude of Fairfax County's School Board Chairman Robert F. Davis: That, whatever is done, public schools must be preserved.’"

Subsequently, FCPS Board Chairman Davis and Superintendent of Schools W.T. Woodson carefully guided our education system through a period of enormous growth of its school age population during extremely difficult political times.  Unlike other jurisdictions, they succeeded in their mission of keeping schools open and educating the children. Once the federal government prevailed, the FCPS Board and Woodson implemented integration plans they had been developing for years in closed meetings.

Allegation 2:  W.T. Woodson was widely-known to have been opposed to the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education ruling.

Fact 2:  No data exists to substantiate this claim.  Rather, Woodson supported the integration of Fairfax Schools through the process of “gradualism” and submitted a plan for integration as early as 1956.  (See Fact 4 for further details.)

In Virginia's Massive Resistance (1961),The Washington Post columnist Benjamin Muse argued that … “a gradualist plan for Virginia, similar to the one followed in North Carolina (which would have allowed such areas as Fairfax County to begin immediate integration while giving the majority black Southside counties longer to adjust), would have garnered the full support of Virginia's white population.” 

Allegation 3:  Superintendent of Schools W.T. Woodson and the FCPS Board intentionally named schools after Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart to fuel racial tension and defy the court-ordered integration of schools. ..."Adding insult to injury this school name was a belligerent parting shot - a cheeky way to spit in the face of the civil rights movement."

Fact 3:  This allegation is completely false. The maligning of Woodson and the FCPS Board is the very essence of the petition. This contention is repeated over and over again not as "alleged" but as fact. School Board (SB) meeting minutes of the late 1950s definitively detail how the various schools received their names and refute the denigration of Superintendent Woodson and the FCPS Board.  

It was not unusual for community groups, associations and organizations such as Daughters of the American Revolution, the  American Legion and even children to proffer names for schools. Linda Winslow, a sixth grader at the Burke School, suggested Mosby High School (SB minutes May 6, 1958). 

It was Mr. Woodson, who presented to the School Board suggestions from the Fairfax Federation of Colored PTA's to name the school referred to in previous school board minutes as Merrifield High School.  In 1954 that school officially opened as Luther P, Jackson, a noted black educator and civil rights activist. (SB minutes June 3, 1953)

School Board minutes did indeed reference Munson High School, just as they did Merrifield High School, but those names were place markers and not final.

In the SB minutes meeting of April 15, 1958, board member Mr. Lory, proposed that Munson Hill High School be named Stonewall Jackson High School and Vienna be named King Carter High School.  In the SB minutes meeting of October 7, 1958, the FCPS Board Chairman was Merton S. Parsons.  Former Chairman Davis moved that the high school under construction in Munson Hill be named the J.E.B. Stuart High School.  (Mr. Davis was cited earlier in the Washington Afro-American Newspaper of November 22, 1955.)  No objections were voiced at that well-attended meeting. At that same meeting the Superintendent’s recommendation was requested as to naming the high school in Vienna.  Mr. Woodson offered the name James Madison, a past president of the U.S. and a Virginian who was interested in furthering public education.

The naming of Lee High School is even more intriguing. There was no secret as to the rancor naming that school. It was written up in The Washington Post. The problem was well documented in the minutes; it speaks to the divide in the communities of Springfield and Franconia. They both wanted to claim the school name.

In a critical set of minutes (SB February 4, 1958), the Upper Pohick Community League submitted a letter proposing that the School Board adopt a policy naming Fairfax County schools for prominent Virginians instead of by place names, and that the Franconia HS be renamed something like Fitzhugh or Lee, etc.

Who was the Upper Pohick Community League? The Upper Pohick Community League’s mission was and still is historical preservation. It is the oldest continually operating neighborhood association in Springfield, and one of the oldest in Fairfax County.  The League purchased the Sydenstricker Schoolhouse from the Fairfax County School Board in 1954. More importantly, they knew the history of that area.  

The Clermont estate was located on Franconia Road and owned by Fitzhugh Lee (40th Governor of Virginia and cousin of Robert E. Lee) and the location of the school was the Lee District.

The Upper Pohick Community League suggested Fitzhugh/Lee for school names. In the widely attended SB meeting of May 20, 1958, the administration’s input was requested, and Mr. Woodson submitted his recommendation that it be named Lee High School.  Mr. Davis moved that the high school on Franconia Road be named Lee High School. It remained Lee High School from 1959 to 1964. It later became Robert E. Lee High School. Mr. Woodson had nothing to do with the naming of the school after Robert E Lee; he retired in 1961.

Fairfax County residents and the FCPS Board in the late 1950s appreciated Civil War history and its enduring legacy in solidifying the United States.  Some may have also understood the value of military strategy practiced by Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart that were applied to defeat the Nazis.  Stuart’s famous Munson Hill Quaker Gun’s deception influenced Allied strategy in Operation Overlord (D-Day).  The decision had already been made not to name schools by location.  What was once referred to as Munson Hill High School became J.E.B. Stuart High School after construction started.

Allegation 4:  W.T. Woodson was an architect of the Massive Resistance movement in Fairfax County because he called for gradualism instead of immediate integration.

Fact 4:  The names of the "architects" of the Massive Resistance movement, such as Sen. Harry Byrd, are readily available in hundreds of articles written in those days and many books since that time. Mr. Woodson's name has never been associated or mentioned as a supporter much less an architect. Woodson is being accused without evidence. Why?  What is the purpose of this attack?

As discussed in Fact 2, gradualism was an accepted solution to immediate and peaceful integration, however, it was not allowed by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Woodson and the FCPS Board advocated this form of integration in 1956, but their plan was rejected by the Commonwealth.

Very importantly, the U.S. Supreme Court recommended gradualism as the process of desegregation implementation.  In his book, The Eisenhower Years, Michael Mayer reports that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter  “…circulated several memos among the Justices on the question on how to implement the decision [Brown v Board of Education]. The Court’s final decree, issued in May 1955, followed the gradualist approach Frankfurter favored and called for the school boards to make a ‘prompt and reasonable start’ toward desegregation and ‘proceed with all deliberate speed,’ a phrase the justice had suggested in one of his memos.”

By Fall 1960 the first black students were admitted to newly desegregated schools in Fairfax County.  In juxtaposition to Fairfax’s accomplishment, desegregation in Boston did not take place until 1974.  Woodson and the FCPS Board are to be commended for keeping schools open during an extremely difficult political time and for expediting integration.

Allegation 5:  Confederate history was recycled in the 1950s for a hateful purpose: to hurt and shame black youth who were integrated into the school system, which was reflecting the view of the Fairfax community.

Fact 5: This is a false allegation. Northern Virginia today, as in the post WWII era, is demographically different from the rest of the Commonwealth and more able to accept integration. Residents of Fairfax County waited out Massive Resistance intent on keeping their schools open.    

Staff Reports Submitted to The United States Commission on Civil Rights and Authorized for Publication entitled “Civil Rights U.S.A.: Public Schools Southern States 1962” make that point on page 202:

“Northern Virginia is unique among Virginia communities which are in the process of desegregating their public schools. Its distinguishing characteristics result primarily from its proximity to Washington, D.C. Most of its people work for the Federal Government; some in the District of Columbia; others are in the military, attached to bases in the area. The white community is well-educated and to some extent transient. Residents come and go as a result of changes in the political party in power, depart to enter private employment, and, in the case of military personnel, are transferred. Because of their ties to the Nation's Capital and their transitory residence, they are less identified with their residential communities and the State than native Virginians. It is a fair generalization that this transient, well-educated, nonnative citizenry is more liberal on the race issue than the rest of the State, and has a much greater capacity to accept desegregation as the law of the land.” 

According to Matthew D. Lassiter, who wrote a book on Massive Resistance titled "The Moderates Dilemma,” the attitudes in Northern Virginia were much different from Southern Virginia.  He writes, “Four communities are known collectively as Northern Virginia. They are the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church and the counties of Arlington and Fairfax.”

Allegation 6:  The naming of Fairfax County schools after Confederates to intentionally defy integration could violate the U.S. Constitution’s provisions regarding lack of government free speech rights, 13th Amendment protections against “Badges of Inferiority,” and 14th Amendment claims under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses.

Fact 6: There is no evidence to support this allegation. The sole purpose of this statement appears to be to intimidate readers to make them feel their lack of support would be contributing to a perpetuation of racism and degradation.  This in itself is intimidation, which is exactly what they accuse the FCPS Board of having done in naming the schools.

As discussed above, there was no intention to defy integration in Fairfax County.  Rather, the FCPS Board had plans in place to integrate as early as 1956 that were rejected by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The FCPS Board continued its planning in closed meetings until such time that integration could be implemented without danger of the Commonwealth closing their schools and cutting off funding.

Allegation 7:  The Lee and Stuart school names have perpetuated racial tension in the student population over the past 56 years.

Fact 7:  Exactly how has this been the case? 

In the 2009 J.E.B. Stuart High School football video entitled Field of Dreams, the narrator says:

“The kids come from so many countries we don’t even count them anymore… It’s amazing. It’s amazing they all get along.”

In the May 3, 2001, The Washington Post article, “Diverse High School a Window on the World,” reporter Liz Seymour wrote that J.E.B. Stuart was the most diverse high school in the nation.  According to the article, "’One of the things Stuart really does is teach us tolerance,’ said Allison Russell, a senior, who counts students from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan among her friends.’”

The September 2001 issue of National Geographic featured J.E.B. High School in its cover story, “Changing America,” by Joel L. Swerdlow. In his concluding paragraph Swerdlow wrote:

“These are normal American teenagers, I think, wondering how I'll get them to discuss immigration issues. Then I realize that they've already taught me the most important lesson. Young people whose backgrounds span the spectrum of human cultures are becoming ‘normal American teenagers,’ and in the process they will change America. We may not know yet what the change will mean, but the kids themselves know they are at the heart of something significant. As one boy, speaking simply and confidently, told me: ‘We make America more interesting.’” 

The racial tension allegation appears to be manufactured for purposes of inciting racial tension and divisiveness to provoke signatures for the petitions.  Where has racial tension at Stuart been reported?  A quick Google search, “Racial tension at J.E.B. Stuart High School,” reveals links only to the petitions themselves.

Precisely what information has been presented to the students that would cause them to draw this conclusion?  The mission of a school is to educate and not to taint the process with the individual perspective and bias of the educators. 

The process of historical analysis involves investigation and analysis of competing ideas, facts and purported facts to create coherent narratives that explain what happened and why or how it happened.

The job of one who teaches history is to objectively present the facts.  Objectivity encourages critical thinking, which is essential in allowing students to draw their own conclusions.

Allegation 8:  Students today deserve a school name that represents something more germane and not represented by Confederate history recycled in the 1950s for a hateful purpose.

Fact 8:  What is considered germane? J.E.B. Stuart high school population is about 46% Hispanic, followed by many other ethnic groups including a large population of Asians. The population of Black American students is roughly 11%. While Justice Marshall did live in the area, his children did not attend school here nor is there any record that he visited the high school.

At a time of great interest in the forthcoming Civil War Centennial Celebration (1957-1965), those who named Stuart were recognizing a prominent Virginian who is famous for his brilliant Quaker Guns military deception tactic employed at Munson Hill.  His tactics are studied globally.

Allegation 9: Students and alumni have felt the need to apologize for the history of racism the name J.E.B. Stuart represents.

Fact 9:  The students who feel the need to apologize for their school name and are advocating for change are in the minority.  The J.E.B Stuart High School newsletter, The Raider’s Digest, of October 20, 2015 ran an article by Igra Choudry entitled, “Name change seeks accurate representation.” Choudry reported:

“In a survey conducted about Stuart’s name change, 60 percent of the kids believe the name should not be changed. The other 40 percent believe the name should be changed to either Woodrow Wilson High School or Peace Valley Lane High School.”

Perhaps those who feel the need to apologize do not have the facts. J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee and Woodson merit ongoing respect as brilliant dedicated Virginians who were not only loyal to their beliefs and their country in the context of their times, but also left enduring  legacies. Woodson and J.E.B. Stuart were discussed in Fact 3 and Lee deserves defending as well. 

Dwight Eisenhower (Ike) became president in 1952. His admiration for Robert E. Lee was well-known.  A WWII general and West Point graduate, Ike studied and respected the brilliance of the Civil War generals.  Ike said:

“…we need to understand that at the time of the War between the States the issue of secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.

…General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America…”

Allegation 10:  Property was taken from black families for J.E.B. Stuart High School.

Fact 10:   Completely false.  According to the Clerk of Court for Fairfax County the land records show that in 1875 a large block of property (including the land now occupied by J.E.B. Stuart High School) was conveyed to John and Virginia Payne, who were white residents. Their property was divided and handed down to subsequent generations of the family.

In 1956, the FCPS purchased the following land from Payne descendants that became the land now occupied by the school:

from Donald and Elizabeth MacLeay, 12.736 acres from Charles and Carrie Hunter, 4.08 acres.

Therefore, the approximately 16+ acres occupied by J.E.B. Stuart High School were acquired by outright purchase from WHITE owners and NOT through the power and force of “eminent domain.”

In Summary:

The Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2015, published an article, “Doubts Over a Confederate Symbol Put Chief Justice’s Statue in Jeopardy,” that includes the perspective of a history professor and an African-American state delegate regarding the proposed removal of Chief Justice Roger Taney’s bust from the Maryland Capitol grounds.

“Michael Powell, a history professor at Frederick Community College, countered that ‘Taney is a seminal figure’ whose decisions were ‘instrumental in transitioning this country into a market economy.’ He said it was unfair to stigmatize Taney simply because of Dred Scott. ‘The last person I know who walked on water was 2,000 years ago,’ he said.

‘I have never been offended by its presence. I have actually developed an uneasy appreciation for the [Taney] statue,’ said state Delegate William Colonel Smith, a Democrat who is African-American. ‘Together, symbols like the statue of Justice Marshall and Chief Justice Taney tell the story of how far we in Maryland have come.’”

The Washington Post article, “Airbrushing Confederate History is Not the Answer,” speaks to the issue of renaming schools and disassembling history.

“By Editorial Board September 14, 2015

THIS COUNTRY’S history has long been an object of pride for most Americans, who have embraced its indisputable achievements while acknowledging but not dwelling on its failures to live up to its own ideals.

There’s value in historical introspection. History is complex; the more that Americans delve into that complexity, the better. No doubt, it’s hard knowing precisely where to draw the line between irredeemably offensive historical symbols (such as the Confederate flag) and those whose legacy is politely termed ‘mixed.’

Yet it’s a dangerous business to airbrush the past, a practice more characteristic of totalitarian societies than free ones. President Franklin D. Roosevelt led the nation through the trials of World War II; he also forced tens of thousands of American citizens into internment camps because of their Japanese heritage. Should his name be erased from public places and institutions? No.

It’s wiser to learn from history and provide its context than to banish it. In Frederick, in 2008, city officials placed a bronze plaque steps from Taney’s bust, acknowledging that the chief justice, who also served as attorney general and treasury secretary, had ‘revealed the content of established racism’ by his Dred Scott opinion.

That seems to us to be moving in the right direction. Leave the bust; provide some context; teach the history.”

It is the responsibility of FCPS School Board, Administration and teachers to maintain the integrity of the education of our students.  History is integral to understanding the linkages between past and present, neither of which can be appreciated without the other.  Appeasing a vocal minority with a revisionist agenda is a never ending proposition.  As the Editors of The Washington Post so aptly stated, “provide some context; teach the history.”  Keep the name J.E.B. Stuart High School.

Petitions containing false allegations and inaccurate information

Electronic version is hyperlinked to petitions

Rename Confederate and Segregation themed public schools in Fairfax County, Virginia  Lisa McQuail, Springfield, VA

Rename J.E.B. Stuart High School after Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall  Julianne Moore and Bruce Cohen, New York City, NY.

Allegations & Facts Summary

Allegation 1: Fairfax County Superintendent of Schools W. T. Woodson was a prominent segregationist.

Fact 1: Completely false.  Woodson was visited by the KKK in protest of his integration policies.

Allegation 2: W.T. Woodson was widely-known to have been opposed to the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education ruling.

Fact 2:  No data exists to substantiate this claim.  Rather, Woodson supported the integration of Fairfax Schools and with the FCPS Board submitted a plan for desegregation in 1956 that was rejected by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Allegation 3:  “Adding insult to injury this school name was a belligerent parting shot – a cheeky way to spit in the face of the civil rights movement."

Fact 3:  This allegation is completely false and a personal opinion of the writer(s) of the petition.

Allegation 4:  W.T. Woodson was an architect of the Massive Resistance movement.

Fact 4:  Mr. Woodson's name has never been associated or mentioned as a supporter of Massive Resistance in historical documents, much less as an architect.

Allegation 5:  Confederate history was recycled in the 1950s for a hateful purpose: to hurt and shame black youth, which was reflecting the view of the Fairfax Community.

Fact 5: False. Residents of Fairfax County accepted integration and waited out Massive Resistance intent on keeping their schools open.  

Allegation 6:  The naming of Fairfax County schools after Confederates to intentionally defy integration could violate the U.S. Constitution’s provisions regarding lack of government free speech rights, 13th Amendment protections against “Badges of Inferiority,” and 14th Amendment claims under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses.

Fact 6: There is no evidence to support this statement.  The allegation in itself is intimidation.

Allegation 7:  The Lee and Stuart school names have perpetuated racial tension in the student population over the past 56 years.

Fact 7:  Again, this is an opinion and not based on any historical documents.

Allegation 8:  Students deserve a school name that represents something more germane, such as Justice Marshall.

Fact 8:  The black population of J.E.B. Stuart High School is the smallest group at 11%. How is this name more germane to the Hispanic (46%), Asian, or White students?


Allegation 9: Students and alumni have felt the need to apologize for the history of racism the name J.E.B. Stuart represents.

Fact 9: There is no evidence to support this allegation. If these students and alumni were informed as to the accurate historical context for the naming of J.E.B. Stuart, there would be no more reason to apologize for the J.E.B. Stuart name than there is to apologize for Thomas Jefferson or George Washington.


Allegation 10:  Property was taken from black families for J.E.B. Stuart School.

Fact 10:   Completely false.  According to the Clerk of the Court for Fairfax County the property was purchased from descendants of a white couple, John and Virginia Payne, who owned the property as far back as 1875. 




The Risk/Cost of a Name Change: finance and backing

The School Board estimated the cost to change J.E.B. Stuart High School's name to be a minimum of $678,000.  The School Board is hoping this cost would be covered by donations. 

The School Board estimated the cost to change J.E.B. Stuart High School’s name to be a minimum of $678,000, and the Board is hoping this cost would be covered by donations.  Inasmuch as 64.5% of Stuart Pyramid students come from low-income families, the ability to raise new funds within the community is inconceivable.  There are already numerous fundraising efforts that support Stuart programs and activities, and there is no guarantee that even those funds would continue if the School Board proceeds with making a change that does not have widespread support.

Note: The community was presented with a survey conducted May 12-20, 2016 that resulted in only 35% supporting a name change.  School Board Vice Chairman Sandy Evans’ Resolution dated June 30 fails to acknowledge the definitive results of a FCPS survey conducted in English, Spanish and Arabic.  A clear majority of the multi-culturally diverse group of respondents said NO to a name change.

The School Board estimate did not include any costs that would be required to be paid by the County for replacement of street signs, maps, etc.  Nor was the cost impact on the School Booster clubs and the PTA considered.  FCPS is counting on generous donors.

After reviewing the names of all 25 Fairfax County high schools, it appears that a number of additional schools might also require a name change. If the FCPS Board starts down this road, there is no telling where this will go. (The intent of one of the petitions is to rename Woodson and Lee, as well.) What is to stop revisionists from pursuing all schools, even those named for other Americans who owned slaves?  Fairfax County and the FCPS are named for Lord Fairfax, who made his fortune slave trading.

Even Evans recognizes there is the potential of a renaming campaign elsewhere in Fairfax County. In her May 27, 2016 article “J.E.B. Stuart High School debates school name change,” Fairfax County Times reporter Angela Woolsey wrote:

“FCPS also includes Robert E. Lee High School. The Springfield school opened in 1958, around the same time as J.E.B. Stuart, but it hasn’t received the same level of scrutiny from the county.

“Right now, we’ve only asked the superintendent [Karen Garza] to do community engagement on this school, so it’s just focused on this school,” Evans said.”

Appeasing the revisionist agenda will bankrupt the school system and the county itself.  Where do we stop?  Appeasement is a losing proposition with no end.

Fairfax County Public Schools are not flush with funds.  The FCPS needs to address a $70M deficit.  The FCPS 2016-2020 Advertised Capital Improvements Projects have an unfunded projected cost of more than a billion dollars.  There is no compelling need to change the name, but there is a compelling financial need to keep it.

Sources for Allegations v. Fact

The truth behind the naming of J.E.B. Stuart High School, and the prevailing wisdom of  W.T. Woodson and

the FCPS Board in the mid to late 1950s

J.E.B. Stuart High School debates name change

Fairfax County School Board Meeting Minutes   5-6-58, 6-2-53, 4-15-58, 10-7-58, 2-4-58, and 5-20-58

A Nation of Nations, Tom Gjelten, Chapter 6

Education Empire, Daniel L. Duke, Chapter 1

The Name-Change Issue at J.E.B. Stuart High School, Fairfax County, Virginia

Class of 1966

Selected Statistics on Slavery in the United States

The Long Shadow of the Confederacy in America's Schools: State-Sponsored Use of Confederate Symbols in the Wake of Brown v. Board of Education, Kathleen Riley

Seven Corners Built on Land Owned by Former Slave, The Washington Post,  December 29, 2013

The Moderate’s Dilemma, Matthew Lassiter,+virginia&source=bl&ots=cbKC3jHS0R&sig=TcAdwCbWVs-llotKyN4MngTAS7k&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjXisK9uofNAhVM4mMKHc2cAQUQ6AEIOzAE#v=onepage&q=gradualism%20in%20desegregating%20fairfax%20County%2C%20virginia&f=false

Secession in the United States

Sources as quoted in Facts

Fact 1:

Washington Afro-American Newspaper (November 22, 1955)

Fact 2:

Fact 3:

Washington Post May 7, 1958 Archives ("Feud over school name settled") (Upper Pohick)

School Board Minutes meetings 5-6-58, 6-2-53, 4-15-58, 10-7-58, 2-4-58, and 5-20-58

Fact 4:

Fact 5:

Fact 7:

J.E.B. Stuart High School football video, Field of Dreams.

Fact 8:

Fact 9:

Fact 10:

School Board Minutes Meeting/use search word Condemnation

Virginia’s “Massive Resistance” to School Integration

Airbrushing Confederate history is not the answer

Risk/Cost of a Name Change


IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                               
February 15, 
Falls Church, VA – The composition of the Ad Hoc Committee to consider renaming J.E.B. Stuart High School appointed by the Fairfax County School Board and Fairfax Public Schools Interim Superintendent Steven Lockard is unfairly weighted in favor of changing the name of the school.  In an email letter sent to FCPS Interim Supt. Steven Lockard on February 13, a group of Ad Hoc Committee members serving on the committee protested its composition stating that the membership is “lopsided” to assure the school will be renamed and includes a number of people from outside of the Stuart community who openly advocate the name change.  The group requested reorganization of the Ad Hoc Committee to include J.E.B. Stuart High School community stakeholders only, as was assured in their letters of invitation.

“Neighbors residing in the Stuart community have been rejected in favor of people from Centreville, Herndon, Annandale and even Falls Church City, which is not within FCPS schools jurisdiction,” says Donna Sanger, a Stuart community resident who volunteered to serve and was rejected.  “Outsiders are displacing resident stakeholders on this committee.” 

J.E. B. Stuart High School area residents were assured by FCPS Interim Superintendent Lockard that the Ad Hoc Committee would be comprised of Stuart community stakeholders.  Those participating received letters of invitation stating, “The Ad Hoc Committee is comprised of vested stakeholders in the J.E. B. Stuart High School community. The stakeholders include students, parents, alumni, and business and community members.”

Interim Supt. Lockard’s response to the letter did not address the composition, nor did it answer eight questions including an explanation as to why the FCPS video “What’s in a Name? J.E.B. Stuart High School” has been removed from YouTube, Google search?  All other FCPS schools can be found. view a saved copy of the missing video “What’s in a Name? J.E.B. Stuart High School” visit

Renaming the high school was rejected by 56% of the Stuart community in a survey done in May 2016 and a subsequent community meeting.  Despite the objections of her constituency, Mason District’s school board member and FCSB Chairman Sandy Evans made it one of her priorities to rename the school in 2017.  Evans is ignoring FCSB Regulation 1870.7 that requires a vote by the high school’s area residents in favor of creating the Ad Hoc Committee. ($file/R8170.pdf)

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JEB's Story