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Goodbye Lee: Board of Supervisors formally renames district “Franconia”

Franconia sign (via Fairfax County)

General Robert E. Lee has suffered another defeat in Virginia — the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has voted to rename the Lee District to the Franconia District.

The board unanimously approved changing the county code to reflect the new name on Tuesday (Dec. 6), formalizing a change that it had already supported in June.

The name change is the latest in a series of efforts to disentangle localities from names honoring Confederate leaders, though Fairfax County’s release noted that there is no conclusive historical evidence that the district was named for Robert E. Lee.

Still, the release said the general perception is that the name honors Lee. Name changes for that district and Sully District were recommended in March by the county’s Redistricting Advisory Committee.

While other officers like John Mosby have also been brought up for discussion, Lee has been an easy and iconic target for renaming. In 2019, Arlington renamed its Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty, and Fairfax County Public Schools renamed Robert E. Lee High School for Rep. John Lewis in 2020.

Supervisor Rodney Lusk helped launch the renaming initiative last March and said it’s been an issue on his mind for years:

Back when I was a candidate, I heard from many in the community about their desire to have conversations about [the name]. For me, as an African American and a proud resident of this district for the past 22 years; whose lived my life, raised my two African American daughters under the signage of the Robert E. Lee Recreation Center, under the signage of Robert E. Lee High School, it’s been a conversation I’ve carried in my heart for many years, and I know that’s true for many others in our community… As we turn the page and continue to write the history of our community; we’re not erasing history, we’re making it.

Staff said much of the groundwork required for the name change has already been laid out. The last changes will be updates to the county’s GIS mapping and election precincts, which will all be completed this spring.

“Residents deserve a community that better reflects them,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “We can’t go back and change history, but we absolutely have a right to decide what it is in history we want to celebrate and what it is in history we want to learn from and do better.”

The county release said the renaming will also include:

  • Lee District Rec Center, which is now known as the Franconia Rec Center
  • Lee District Park is now called Franconia Park
  • Lee High Park is now Lewis High Park
  • Lee Residential Permit Parking District is now the Lewis Parking District
  • Lee Community Parking District is now renamed the Franconia Parking District

The day after the Board of Supervisors vote, the Fairfax County Park Authority announced that its board had unanimously approved renaming three of its facilities:

  • Lee High Park to Lewis High Park
  • Lee District Rec Center to Franconia Rec Center
  • Lee District Park to Franconia Park

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