Editor’s Note: This letter to the Fairfax County School Board was written July 23 by Reese Glassman, the new editor of The Blue View, on Black Lives Matter and the name change from Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, Va. to John R. Lewis High School.
Dear esteemed members of the School Board of Fairfax County,
I see black lives matter signs all over Washington, D.C., however, I can’t help but feel that black lives still don’t matter. On July 23, the school board showed us that BLM truly does matter.
The Mayor of New Orleans said, “there is a difference you see between remembrance and history and the reverence of it.” We can not be afraid of the truth. The African-American experience has been met with slavery, rape, and history of the Middle passage or Transatlantic Slave Trade in which many African Americans had to choose death or to live in bondage.
When you hear the name of Lee, a confederate General. Does that make you proud? Does the name inspire you? Does the legacy compel you to do better?
The answer is no. Those monuments and names were put in place to let African Americans know who was in charge. They were put on a pedestal.
I employ you to change the name to Congressman John Robert Lewis, a civil rights activist and icon. He fought very hard for equal opportunity and voting rights. He marched with Dr. Martin L. King and had his skull cracked for marching for the rights of African Americans. The struggle must continue, and I promise that my generation will continue the fight, but I can’t do it without you. He passed the baton and the world is watching what we do.
My generation stands on your shoulders, but we promise to get off of your shoulder and do our part. I implore that you change the name and vote for John Lewis tonight but even more importantly we must move beyond the monument and focus on changing the hearts and minds of enablers who are clinging on to those out dated and inappropriate monuments and names. They are reminders of a torrid past. While I am confident that those monuments will be taken down and names changed, we have to change our mindset.
We can’t let the enables continue down this path. As we ponder the name change, my thoughts go to one of the contributors of racial injustice in America: the enabler. Enablers are the ones who – rather than risk losing friendships or contracts, or out of desire for social inclusion or maybe because they agree with the racist act – play it safe and silently stand by and let hatred, racial injustice occur. Today, tonight, don’t be an enabler! Reject the name Legacy and choose John Lewis.
Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today.
The resolution was passed. A big thank you to Karen Keys-Gamarra and Sandy Evans for their tireless work to on Justice High school and all the school board members who voted in favor of its passage. My heart is extremely heavy today by the passing of John Lewis. The baton is passed. It’s up to us to carry it to the finish line.
Main Photo: Stock photo of Black Lives Matter protesters.
Reese Glassman is a member of the Dranesville Committee. She previously served as the education chair of the NAACP, staff director in the U.S. Congress on International Relations and was the director for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. She was the co-chair of the Seniors Committee of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, and is currently the editor of The Blue View.
Like this story? Share it on social media!