The NAACP Virginia State Conference and others have filed a federal lawsuit against the decision to revert two schools in Quicksburg, VA to their original names, which honored Confederate military leaders. 

As Blavity reported, following the worldwide outrage and protests due to the unjust deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd during the first half of 2020, the Shenandoah County School Board changed the names of two schools to recognize the effects of racism and help progress its local community in a new direction. On May 10, the board had a change of heart after voting in alignment with the Coalition for Better Schools — which is a conservative group that petitioned to restore the former names.

“This backward move has received a negative reaction all over the world. [T]he world is watching to see if this variety of the seeds of hate and disenfranchisement will take root and return Shenandoah County and the Commonwealth of Virginia to the days when racial exclusion was the law of the land,” Virginia NAACP President Cozy Bailey said in a statement, Essence reported.

Rev. Bailey added, “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.”

In an April newsletter, the Shenandoah County School Board shared the reason behind considering the petition, according to Essence.

“We believe that revisiting this decision is essential to honor our community’s heritage and respect the wishes of the majority,” the letter stated.

On June 11, the Virginia NAACP and five students took legal action to stop the reversion of Honey Run Elementary School, formally known as Ashby-Lee Elementary School and Mountain View High School, initially named Stonewall Jackson High School, because it would cause “an unlawful and discriminatory educational environment for Black students” per Essence.

A pivotal point the organization highlighted was the city’s discriminatory and racially motivated history of integration and the acceptance of Black people residing within their community. Several years following the groundbreaking 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case that ruled in favor of integration in schools, Stonewall Jackson High School was created so white students could remain segregated from Black people as it was a “white only” education facility.

“The Confederate names signaled to Black students and their families that they were not welcome at the schools, and it took another several years for the first Black students to enroll in high school during the 1963-64 school year,” the Virginia NAACP said, according to Essence’s report.

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee and Covington & Burling LLP will be the legal representation for the civil rights group and students fighting to keep the new names of the two schools in question while also wanting to ensure names and mascots for education centers will never salute Confederate leaders in the future.

“By voting for Confederate names, the school board is subjecting children to discrimination…A Black high schooler who wants to play on the soccer team must wear the Stonewall Jackson ‘Generals’ uniform,” said Marja Plater, who serves as senior counsel of Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “The student must honor a Confederate leader who fought to keep Black people in chains as slaves. Exposing children to this persistent racism and hate harms their self-worth and long-term health.”