The Staunton School Board voted four to two to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School on Monday.
The board of the western Virginia public school system plans to launch an online survey this week for community input on what to rename the school. Comments will be accepted through next month.
This vote comes as Confederate symbolism is debated, with some saying it perpetuates racism and others saying it represents Southern heritage. It also follows other schools moving to re-brand themselves, such as Richmond Public Schools voting to rename J.E.B. Stuart Elementary as Barack Obama Elementary School. The school boards in Falls Church and Petersburg are also renaming several Confederate-named schools.
In Lexington, the Washington and Lee University Board of Trustees has endorsed the replacement of some portraits of George Washington and Robert E. Lee in military uniforms on the school’s campus.
The board announced that it will endorse the replacement of those portraits in Lee Chapel with those of the two men in civilian clothing. It also ordered the doors to the statue chamber in the 1883 addition to Lee Chapel to be closed during university events.
Lee served as president of Washington College. He died in 1870, and his name was added to the institution’s.
Robinson Hall, which houses the school’s math department, will be renamed Chavis Hall in honor of John Chavis, the first African-American to receive a college degree in the United States. Chavis was the first African American to receive a college education in the United States in 1795.
The Lee-Jackson House, home to the Office of the Dean of The College, will be renamed Simpson House in recognition of the first woman to become a tenured professor at the school, Pamela Hemenway Simpson. Simpson, who died in 2011, served as associate dean of the college and played an important role in Washington and Lee’s transition to co-education in the mid-1980s, and chaired the Co-Education Steering Committee from 1984 to 1986.