Student seeks to honor Civil Rights Activist in renaming of J.E.B. Stuart

Did you know none of the 30 Fairfax County high schools are named after women or people of color? That could soon change, now that the Fairfax County School Board has voted to rename J.E.B. Stuart High School.

FALLS CHURCH, VA (WUSA9) - None of the 30 Fairfax County High Schools are named after women or people of color, but that could change with the renaming of J.E.B. Stuart High School, named after a Confederate General. 

There's movement underway to rename the school after a young, African American women who some say had a bigger impact on history than General Stuart did. 

It was 1951 when Barbara Rose Johns was 16 when she led a walkout to protest poor and overcrowded conditions in her all-black high school in Prince Edward County, Virginia.  

RELATED: Fairfax superintendent sets date for JEB Stuart name change

She may have been inspired by her famous uncle Vernon Johns who was a pioneer of the civil rights movement.

He pastured the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama prior to Martin Luther King, Jr. becoming the pastor.  

Kayla Longmyer, 16, says Barbara Johns' story needs to be highlighted and celebrated.  

"This walkout ended up where she was part of a lawsuit that was one of the main lawsuits that culminated into Brown V. Board," Kayla explained. 

"Of all of the suits it was the first one that was led by a student," said Ken Longmyer, Kayla's father.  

Ken Longmyer explains just how important her protest was in the fight for integration and civil rights.

"The took it to the NAACP and the put their heads together and said, 'why don't we just sue for integrated schools?' And that was the first of five such suits that you hear all about. Remember, this happened before Rosa Parks in the back of the bus in Montgomery.  And, after this happened, it sort of lit a spark," said Ken Longmyer. 

"By naming the school after her, we're honoring her and saying, holding her up, this is a piece of history that is inspirational and important and should be remembered," said Kayla.   

Renaming J.E.B. Stuart H.S. Timeline:

-Community meeting. Saturday, September 9, at 10 a.m. at J.E.B. Stuart High School to gather names for consideration 

-Community votes on Saturday, September 16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at J.E.B. Stuart 

-Voting is limited to those participants residing in the school’s attendance area 

How New Name will Picked

-Weighted point system will determine the top three choices. 

-Division Superintendent will formulate a recommendation of the most popular choices 

-FCPS School Board votes on new names three weeks after recommendation 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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