rodney l lusk.jpg

Supervisor Rodney L. Lusk was sworn in as Fairfax County Franconia District Supervisor in January of 2020 and is the first African American male elected to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Of the nine Fairfax County magisterial districts that could be renamed to suit modern sensibilities better, Lee District springs to mind as an obvious choice.

Lee District was one of two (the other being Sully) that the Fairfax County Redistricting Advisory Committee this spring suggested should be renamed and Supervisor Rodney Lusk (D-Lee) on June 28 proposed giving the district the new name of Franconia.

“The name Franconia has always been central to our identity,” said Lusk, citing Franconia Road, the Franconia-Springfield Metro station, Franconia Governmental Center and Franconia Museum.

“It’s a name that makes sense, it’s a name that our community has embraced and it’s a name that memorializes a place and not a person,” he said.

Supervisors unanimously approved Lusk’s motion to have County Executive Bryan Hill formally begin the process to change the district’s name from Lee to Franconia and report back to the board on any administrative changes necessary and possible financial impacts, plus a timeline for the renaming’s adoption.

Supervisors also directed Hill to have county staff conduct public outreach to community groups and businesses that might be affected by the planned renaming and recommend strategies for helping the affected parties during the transition.

The School Board earlier had stripped the name of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a high school in Springfield, renaming the facility John Lewis High School.

For many, the name Lee District “evokes visions of the old gravel pits or the sound of footsteps on the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows or pride in the history of Laurel Grove School or so many of the other things that make our community what it is,” Lusk said.

“However, for many, the name Lee District evokes another set of imagery,” he continued. “Whether design or by accident – and we may never know by which that it is – the name stands as a lasting monument to the most recognizable Confederate figure in history.”

While no one on the Board of Supervisors, or likely anyone in the community, reveres Lee District’s name because of that association, “simply not celebrating the connotation does not erase the echoes of slavery, racism, segregation and discrimination that it evokes in many of our neighbors,” Lusk said.

Lusk attended three town-hall meetings that drew hundreds of residents and discussed the district’s history and etymology, what it meant to the public and possible alternative names. Each meeting kicked off with a presentation by a Virginia Room historian from Fairfax Library.

Lusk said he was impressed by the civil manner in which community members expressed their opinions on the subject and listened to others’ viewpoints. The public overwhelmingly supported changing the district’s name to Franconia, he said.

Supervisor Penelope Gross (D-Mason) called Lusk’s renaming proposal a “very elegant solution.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay (D), who long has lived in Lee District and formerly represented it on the board, said the district is highly diverse, opening and welcoming.

The proposed renaming is “recognizing a geographic area that is at the root of the history of that community, instead of tied back to a specific person or something much more controversial,” McKay said.

McKay said he expected the county would come up with a grant program to help those affected by the name change, especially non-profits.

[https://sungazette.news provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

Tags

(21) comments

Lynne June

Except for naming after a US President or Medal of Honor recipient, I’m all for naming streets, schools, and governmental jurisdictions after their location rather than in honor of a person.

Popular Misconception

It's interesting that Robert E. Lee's father was one of this country's greatest Revolutionary heroes in our war of succession from England as we established a confederacy of American colonies. We are taught to praise that particular successionist action and resulting confederacy because "we won", but so few understand it that way. RE Lee was also possibly one of the wisest, capable, and most talented leaders our country has ever produced. The only - ONLY - reason he led the Army of Northern Virginia, and not a Union army, is that he understood the principles of Federalism far better than most US citizens today. He understood the preeminence of the several states over the centralized federal government, and therefore understood his allegiance to lie with his home country, Virginia. I know it's unpopular these days to claim that he wasn't fighting for slavery, but that was not a motivation for him whatsoever. He is "guilty by association" due to the sheer number of @ssholes that happened to be part of the southern confederacy, chief among them being President Jefferson Davis. But Lee was not loyal to Davis. Or to slavers. Or to racists and segregationists. He was loyal to Virginia and to his family. Instead of ridiculing him left and right, we all would do well to take a nuanced look at his life and learn from his decisions and actions, both good and bad.

John Dutko

Wesley Norris (a slave of Gen. Lee who escaped to Maryland in 1859 but then returned to Arlington):

"We were immediately taken before Gen. Lee, who demanded the reason why we ran away; we frankly told him that we considered ourselves free; he then told us he would teach us a lesson we never would forget; he then ordered us to the barn, where, in his presence, we were tied firmly to posts by a Mr. Gwin, our overseer, who was ordered by Gen. Lee to strip us to the waist and give us fifty lashes each, excepting my sister, who received but twenty; we were accordingly stripped to the skin by the overseer, who, however, had sufficient humanity to decline whipping us; accordingly Dick Williams, a county constable, was called in, who gave us the number of lashes ordered; Gen. Lee, in the meantime, stood by, and frequently enjoined Williams to lay it on well, an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done."

Don't whitewash History.

Harry Morant

Applause!

Harry Morant

John Lewis High School? I can only imagine the illiteracy rate of students graduating from that school.

Duke Nukem

So it was named after a Confederate Democrat, was changed, and now shares a name with the region of Germany where Nuremberg exists. A city that played a prominent role in the growth of the Nationalist Socialist movement. A place that still maintains Nazi party rally grounds. I guess it is fitting and expected from today's leftist Party. Socialists they are, whether nationalist or not. Most of Nova needs to be renamed at some point by their logic. Leesburg, Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria. Maybe we should name these counties after medal of honor recipients instead of places like Franconia Germany.

John Dutko

https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=158

"“Frankhonia Farm” was situated on 191 acres purchased in 1859 by Alexandria merchant and businessman William Fowle from Joseph Broders of Oak Grove Farm. His son, Robert Rollins Fowle, sold 18 acres to the Alexandria & Fredericksburg Railway Company in 1871 for a station, which was named after the farm. The station served as the Garfield Post Office from 1881 to 1890 and again from 1898 to 1907. Initially situated south of Franconia Road near the present day Fleet Drive, the station was relocated after a fire in 1903 to the north side of Franconia Road. Regular service at Franconia Station was discontinued c. 1953."

But please, keep talking about a timeframe 75 years and 2000 miles away from this plot of land.

Casey Avatar

Nonsense. We would never name a school after a dictator like Hitler. There were no dictator's on our countries Civil War. It is a waste of time and money that could be put to better use such as more magnet schools, vocational schools, etc. Removing names and dates for the sake of something that happened over 150 years ago is no more than trying to remove history. Much like China and Tiananmen Square, are we China? Are we trying to remove out past, they have. What next remove it from the history books just like the Communists? Are you people Communists?!

Harry Morant

We are not China, but our current "leaders" sure seem to be enjoying the money they get from China! Hunter, Hunter? and the 10% of that that went to "The Big Guy".

John Dutko

Is this like when Republicans from Texas proposed replacing "slavery" with "involuntary relocation" in textbooks?

If you want to destroy/remove history, burn the archives. The Japanese did it to the Koreans, the Russians recently did it to the Ukrainians, and the Germans...well...

Note how right-wing, autocratic governments take to burning books and the written record. It is the de-facto way to control a populace and identify and indemnify a group (often referred to as "other") in order to rile up a base. We have seen this under Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and many other demagogues.

Having a moment of inflection for atrocious events that happened over 150 years ago is mature and necessary to promote healing, especially in such a divisive political climate that we have today.

China is on pace to replace the US in terms of military, economic, and political clout in the next 10 years.

Allen Muchnick

If you had descended from African-American slaves, I suspect you'd have a very different opinion.

It's long past time for governmental entities to stop memorializing slavery advocates and White supremacists. This is not about "removing history"; it's about no longer honoring White supremacy.

Stephanie Richardson

Changing a name does not change history. Waste of time and money, esp. with much more important, timely, and relevant issues to address that are not just a simple fix. Another example of fools who miss the point.

Larry Lyons

So using your arguments then you'd object in changing the name of a school if it were named Adolf Hitler HIgh School. In other words why honour butchers traitors and losers.

Duke Nukem

Funny the name "Franconia" has links to Hitler whether direct or indirect.

John Dutko

Godwin's Law

Harry Morant

Well since NO school is named after Adolf Hitler, your example is absurd. But I would fight tooth and nail not to have any school named after Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., the most feckless, useless, crooked, person to ever illegitimately hold the office of President of the United States. What a TOTAL disgrace and a laughing stock of the civilized world.

John Dutko

Ok dingus. Show proof of illegitimacy.

Cuz Trump has an open-shut wire fraud case against him for purposefully misleading the public and conning people out of 250 million dollars.

Stephanie Richardson

Use your head and stop stupid comments...if you can.

Harry Morant

The truth is unbearable, isn't it?

ROBERT ARRINGTON

ditto

John Dutko

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Jefferson_(North_Carolina)

Was that name change appropriate? Why or why not?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.