500 signatures reached
To: Arlington County Public Schools (Virginia)
Rename Washington-Lee High School
As alums and neighbors of Washington-Lee High School, we urge you to rename the school. It's unacceptable to have a school named after the leader of the Confederate Army, which raised up a new flag and started a rebellion against the United States of America in order to preserve slavery. How about Washington-Douglass or Washington-Tubman High School instead? There is nothing to celebrate about the Confederacy. It's time Arlington honor those who fought tirelessly to create an America for all.
Why is this important?
Many Americans have been beginning a conversation about our nation’s living wounds. It's clear that too many are ignorant of our country’s history. And this past week has shown that a small minority of white nationalists are increasingly comfortable with publicly stirring up the worst aspects in American society by pitting Americans against each other.
To these white nationalists, Robert E. Lee represents their deep commitment to racial hierarchy. When three of his slaves escaped, Lee whipped them and had their backs washed with stinging brine. Lee ordered his Confederate soldiers to respect white property, but declared that any black people they encountered -- regardless of their previous ‘status’ -- were to be seized and returned to the South to be sold into slavery. At the Battle of the Crater, Lee’s Army even killed black prisoners of war. This is the history we honor when we name our school after Robert E. Lee -- and why white nationalists felt so threatened by the removal of his statue in Charlottesville.
We must understand the stakes too. Arlington should not shy away from taking a clear stand on this issue. It's up to our civic leaders and institutions to take steps toward reconciling and repairing our nation's living wounds where we can make a difference. Washington-Lee High School should be renamed in order to emphatically reject the doctrine of white supremacy and so that we can move toward creating a school, county and country that truly belongs to all who call it home. If the President of the United States is unwilling to provide the leadership our country needs, then we must provide it ourselves.
The story of our nation has always been a struggle over who America belongs to: the chosen few, or all of us? This is what is at stake when we honor the leaders of the Confederacy. Which side of that struggle will we honor? Germans don't honor Nazi soldiers; South Africans don't honor those who held up Apartheid. But Americans still honor Robert E. Lee and countless other Confederates who raised up a new flag and started a rebellion against the United States of America. Why?
Let's take concrete steps toward living up to our best traditions and creating a nation where we all feel like we belong and where "We, the People" includes all of us. This is our historic responsibility as Americans in this moment in our history. Rename Washington-Lee High School.
How it will be delivered
Email the signatures to the School Board and Principal.