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Virginia school strips Confederate general from name

AFP logoAFP 1/11/2019
Washington-Lee High School students hold posters at a gun control protest. The Virginia school is to remove Confederate general Robert E. Lee from its name and be called Washington-Liberty High School © Provided by AFP Washington-Lee High School students hold posters at a gun control protest. The Virginia school is to remove Confederate general Robert E. Lee from its name and be called Washington-Liberty High School

A Virginia high school is removing Confederate general Robert E. Lee from its name in the latest move to strip away tributes to leaders of the pro-slavery Civil War south.

The Arlington County School Board voted 5-0 on Thursday night to change the name of Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty High School.

Washington-Lee High School, which opened in 1925, was named for George Washington, the revered first president of the United States, and Lee, who led the Army of Northern Virginia during the 1861-65 Civil War.

The school board decided to rename the school after an avowed white supremacist drove his car into a group of anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, killing a woman and injuring dozens.

The protestors had gathered to counter a group of neo-Nazis and white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville to oppose a plan to remove a statue of General Lee from a public park.

A committee made up of Washington-Lee students, parents and alumni of the school recommended two potential new names to the school board -- Washington-Liberty High School and Washington-Loving High School.

Mildred and Richard Loving were a Virginia couple whose 1958 marriage led to the overturning of state laws banning inter-racial marriage. Mildred Loving was black and Richard Loving was white.

A decision to remove a Confederate symbol was also taken in Texas on Friday.

The Dallas Morning News said Texas board of historical monuments had voted to remove a Confederate plaque from the Texas state capitol building.

The plaque claimed that slavery was not the underlying cause of the Civil War.

Confederate monuments have been removed from public parks in several US cities in recent years and a number of schools and highways have been stripped of the names of Confederate generals or politicians.

In a report published in April 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center -- a civil rights advocacy group -- found that more than 1,500 symbols of the Confederacy are located on US public lands, mostly in the South.

According to historians and the SPLC, most Confederate monuments were erected during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation.

Defenders of preserving the Confederate symbols argue that they are a reminder of Southern heritage and removing them is erasing history.

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