Thursday evening, Virginia’s Fairfax County School Board unanimously renamed W.T. Woodson High School. The new name, Carter G. Woodson High School, will be introduced in the 2023-2024 school year. At the time of its opening, the school was named after W.T. Woodson, a segregationist, according to Patch. It will now be named after Carter G. Woodson, who created Negro History Week, a precursor to Black History Month.

The Fairfax County School Board Chair Elaine Tholen said ahead of the final vote that the decision to select Woodson was made more accessible based on his contributions to the education field. The school was named after the former Fairfax County Superintendent Wilbert Tucker Woodson and opened in 1962.

“What I really love about this perfect symmetry is the fact that Carter G. Woodson, not only was he a professor, got his Ph.D. from Harvard, but he also was a school principal,” she said.

The process for renaming the school started after students and community members expressed concerns about the legacy of W.T. Woodson.

“The order to desegregate schools is highly improper and infringes on human rights. To force integration of schools is to force social mixing since attendance in public schools is usually compulsory. It takes advantage of the immaturity of children in that it tends to use it to force upon both parents and children social adjustments to which so many parents strongly object,” Woodson wrote in 1959 in response to the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.

Due to the Fairfax County Public Schools system policy, they have already renamed two high schools initially named after Confederate officers. Abar Omeish, who oversaw the public engagement process and presented the renaming measure, said this helped the town reflect on its history and how it shares it with younger generations.

“Through multiple community meetings, public hearings, and online feedback forms, we have engaged in rich discussion and gained a deeper understanding about our shared history,” he said. “One of the things that screams the loudest to me in this story is not only that we have to turn the tide and correct what’s been wrong, but that complicity is not OK.”

“[W.T. Woodson] perhaps wasn’t Robert E. Lee or J.E.B. Stuart, but he was someone who enabled through his power and inaction, having that power, did the wrongs of our past. That makes us reflect. What are the many ways that we continue to be complicit as a system as individuals in various harms unfolding in our society?” he added.