FALLS CHURCH, VA (WUSA9) - Tensions are high surrounding the controversy over whether to rename J.E.B. Stuart High School in Fairfax County.
The side that wants to keep the name backed out of a community meeting Thursday night after insults against three members appeared on a gossip forum.
The meeting took place with several students, parents and community members speaking out about the need to change the name.
It was Stuart students who started the movement to change their school's name. Now the NAACP is on board and leading the drive, talking about the school's history.
"What happened at the time, is they adopted all sorts of Confederate symbols, including a man riding a horse during the football games, waving the Confederate battle flag. If that does not send a signal that no blacks are wanted at this high school, I don't know what does," said Stephen Spitz, a member the community.
Spitz takes issue with the 'Keep The Name' side using the Confederate battle flag on a flyer.
"Everybody should understand that the Confederate flag is offensive to many, many people including myself," said Spitz.
The flyer advertises historical bus tours that will be led by local historian and author Don Hakenson. He'll be showing many Civil War sites, Union and Confederate, around Falls Church to students and community members.
Hakenson is a strong believer in teaching the history of our county's bloodiest war which left more 620,000 Americans dead. (Hakenson said histories have found evidence that the total number of dead could climb to 850,000.)
Hakenson said he understands the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag.
"That flag means many different things to many different people. To some, who feel like they've been subjected to racism, that's a terrible symbol. But to a lot of people who had ancestors that fought for Virginia, fought for the South, that symbol is a symbol of bravery. So it means different things to different people, and because of that you have this controversy that's going on," said Hakenson.
He added that it would hard to teach Civil War history without ever showing the flag.
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