Our Community » Public Comments on Lanier Middle School Name

Public Comments on Lanier Middle School Name

Feedback on Proposed Renaming of Lanier Middle School
Comments were submitted through email and our website between July 7, 2020 - September 10, 2020. 
 
Disclaimer: The comments submitted have not been changed, edited or altered however names or other potentially identifying factors have been redacted. Comments were accepted from both City of Fairfax residents and those living outside of the City. 
 
 

It is very sad to see our "leaders" and elected officials being so willing to toss aside our history and culture, driven by current emotional hysteria. The monuments being destroyed and the honorary naming of schools, buildings, streets, communities, was never about heralding slavery or honoring that cause in any way. Frankly, everyone knows that (even the people calling for change now). What it was about is a state, a community, remembering and honoring those who took up their community's call to arms and did their duty out of love and commitment for their fellow citizens. They risked their lives, sacrificed themselves, and many paid the ultimate price because when their fellow citizens called and needed them, they bravely answered that call. Discarding them, their memory, and the sacrifices they made (made not for slavery, but for their fellow citizens), is to treat them the way so many treated Vietnam Veterans returning from a war they fought because their country called on them to do it. Was nothing learned from that ugly chapter of our past? We don't deserve to have our citizens fight for us if this is the way we treat them after they do. Shame on us.

 

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I attended Lanier Middle School and I'm saddened to see these efforts to erase history. Sidney Lanier was a Viriginian and like most Virginians in 1861, he sided with his home state. These efforts to destroy a person's legacy because they fought for the Confederacy instead of reviewing a person's entire life are wrong. I especially find it ironic that you're going after school names of men doing what most of their fellow Virginians were doing in 1861, but you have no issue with the City of Fairfax which is named after one of the largest slave owners in Virginia. I also find irony that the edict is coming from a Governor who can't remember whether that was him wearing the Klan robe in his Medical College. Yearbook. How about instead of renaming everything, you use it as a teaching moment. When I attended Lanier, you couldn't get out of 8th grade history without knowing all the battle of the Civil War (by both names), who won and the leading General on each side. Why not incorporate extra lessons about life as a soldier in each Army and use Sidney Lanier as an example of a Confederate Soldier. Do you really think its smarter to pretend the Civil War never happened than to teach it in context? Many skirmishes/battles/raids happened within what is today's City limits. That's why we were taught about theses battles - they happened in our backyards. It wasn't glorified, but it was history. I think folks need to quit being afraid to teach history in all its ugliness just because some might find it unpleasant.

 

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In keeping with the poet theme I suggest Maya Angelou Middle School. Former Poet Laureate and woman of color.

 

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My son, a student there, recommended Abe Lincoln. My Providence son recommended Peace Middle School. Thanks for doing this.

 

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I think it should be named after Fairfax HS Alumni (Class of 2014) Simone Askew. In 2017, she became the first African-American woman to earn the position as First Captain, leader of the Corps of Cadets at West Point. She is also a 2018 Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

 

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Why are you considering a name change

 

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Lanier MS was named after the achievements of the poet, professor, school principal and not the soldier. We honor his acheivements as a scholar. I do not see the need to rename Lanier. The Lanier library has a copy of his book of poems that has been treasured throughout it’s history

 

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Please rename it to Helen Keller Middle School to celebrate the significant contributions Keller made to social justice.

 

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Changing the names of public buildings seems like a small thing that we can do so that we can stop appearing to celebrate the Confederacy and all it stood for. There are so many alternate names possible. Please change the name of the school.

 

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Please keep the name of Sydney Lanier and do not mix literature and politics! Middle schools are named after poets, not Confederate politicians or generals, and trying to strip off the names of those who happened to serve in the Confederate Army (which was probably compulsory) and/or lived in the South during the times of slavery, is going way too far!

 

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Name the school Louis Braille. Braille made literacy accessible to people who are blind and should be recognized for this gift.

 

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This is ridiculous. Another school considering this. We are teaching our kids to be intolerant. We should be teaching them to be tolerant and be strong, so they can deal with what real.life will bring. What you all are doing is damaging their future and preparedness for the challenging lessons REAL life brings. I am absolutely opposed!

 

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Haben Girma Middle School https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haben_Girma Haben Girma (born July 29, 1988) is an African American disability rights advocate, and the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School.

 

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Stevie Wonder Middle School

 

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Marla Runyan Middle School Legally blind Olympian https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marla_Runyan

 

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We do not memorialize every bit of our heritage - only those aspects we wish to reflect our values. Those aspects we want our children to learn about and emulate. Those which we want others to meditate upon as reflective of our shared community values. Though some would claim that we never want to “erase” our national history, we name schools not to reflect our history, but to reflect our values. Kindly consider renaming Lanier MS in a manner that reflects our desired current and future values as a community of empathy, of diversity, of civic participation, and of patriotism.

 

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I would love to see this middle school renamed for another poet who is/was African American or Latino. Thank you!

 

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I support abandoning the name Lanier and renaming the school so that it is no longer named after a Confederate soldier. The naming of schools and streets in the American south in honor of Confederate soldiers was part of a decades long effort to terrorize black Americans during the Jim Crow era. I know it's truly shocking for people that come to northern Virginia to see so many names from the Confederacy represented. It's not only shameful to individuals living here but it's also detrimental to our community. The perpetuation of the Lost Cause myth and the imagery of the genteel Confederate south enables America's inability to reckon with its past. Renaming our schools and streets is the first step. Changing what history is taught within those schools must come next. I would love to see the middle school renamed for Rita Dove, Poet Laureate and professor at the University of Virginia, or Tracy K. Smith, Poet Laureate.

 

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As Lanier was a Confederate soldier, I thought the best people to weigh in on this decision would be our military leaders. From FHS graduate Simone Askew and her West Point classmates: “Remove all names, monuments, and art honoring or venerating Confederate figures.” https://www.slideshare.net/TimothyBerry8/an-anti-racist-west-point

 

From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Confederate Army symbols within the military, including prominent Army bases named for rebel generals, are divisive and can be offensive to Black people in uniform, the nation’s top officer said Thursday. “The American Civil War was fought and it was an act of rebellion, it was an act of treason at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution, and those officers turned their backs on their oaths,” Army Gen. Mark Milley told a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that some see it differently. “Some think it’s heritage. Others think it’s hate.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/milley-confederate-names-on-army-bases-divide-the- military/2020/07/09/19a3ad8a-c225-11ea-8908-68a2b9eae9e0_story.html

 

From Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday: “The Navy also has ships named after battles we lost during the Second World War as well. So not so much a reflection on that as it is the history of our country. We can’t rewrite the history per se, but those things that divide us are things that we need to revisit and rethink,” he told USNI News. “I think we need to look at those things that separate us – whether it’s some sticker that somebody puts on a car, or some saying that somebody emblazons on a shirt. I supported the commandant’s initiative (to ban Confederate flags in the Marine Corps). … It isn’t necessarily the imagery, it’s the connotation behind the imagery and how that may have been misdirected in a way that has now identified with something that it was never originally intended to identify. That’s a sad chapter in our history, so we’re going to look at all those things, and we’re going to assess them appropriately, and we’re going to make those right decisions that, again, that unite the Navy and bring us together. “The Senate bill follows orders from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines to remove Confederate imagery from barracks and bumper stickers of sailors and Marines. “The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, has directed his staff to begin crafting an order that would prohibit the Confederate battle flag from all public spaces and work areas aboard Navy installations, ships, aircraft and submarines,” reads a statement on June 9. “The order is meant to ensure unit cohesion, preserve good order and discipline, and uphold the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment.” https://news.usni.org/2020/06/12/senate-bill-to-purge-confederate-names-from-u-s-military-could-affect-two-navy-ships

 

If they say it is OK to change, then so do I. Let's find someone else to honor and inspire our kids.

 

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I am in support of changing the name of Lanier Middle School.

 

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I agree that we should update our public edifices to honor those who have furthered our knowledge, stood up for the causes of love and fairness. I do not have a specific suggestion but I would be thrilled to see a locally raised or resident woman of science so that when my middle school daughter walks into the building each day she can be reminded again that Science and Engineering are not just for boys.

 

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I'm in favor of changing the name!

 

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I find it ridiculous today's 'cancel culture' would motivate my local government to waste precious resources on these types of initiatives. We, collectively as citizens of the USA, cannot erase our history. But we can learn from our mistakes and these monuments should be a reminder to not repeat those mistakes. Stop wasting my tax dollars on these efforts and focus on improving our community.

 

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The time has come to stop venerating those who fought for the Confederacy. No matter what part, or at what level Sidney Lanier played in the Civil War, his name should not be associated with a school that attracts students from multiple backgrounds, nations, and ethnicities. Recommend change the name to Jermantown Middle School.

 

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My thought are it should be renamed after someone whose brave stand changed Virginia’s and America foe the better. Mildred Loving and her husband were the very definition of bravery and that love wins. Hate is taught. But the Lovings proved that love will always win and triumph over hate. As a Virginian and a person whose marriage was made legal because of the Lovings, I think with all the hate it would make a statement that a Virginia has left the old ways behind and instead embraces Gods view, namely we are all equal and loved in the eyes of the Lord and we should do the same.

 

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um its a nice name

 

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Retain the current name and recognize the artistic contributions that Sidney Lanier brought to this world.

 

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Please keep the name. Sidney Lanier was a writer, musician, composer and educator. He was a product of his age and his social class and his life can be a lesson for our students.

 

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I believe names matter and Lanier Middle School should seek to change its name to better reflect its values of diversity and community. We have been left with the legacy of much nomenclature in the region that celebrates the Confederacy. This is our opportunity to contribute to the narrative and leave a legacy for our children that they can be proud of, recognizing with nomenclature ideals that are beyond reproach and that every student can relate to and be inspired by.

 

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Sidney Lanier bears no connection to the City of Fairfax -- he was from Georgia, a confederate soldier, and a minor poet (perhaps students of American poetry are familiar with his work, but as a FCPS alumna, I cannot recall at any point reading his work in school). The City of Fairfax is a diverse community, and its schools are all Title 1, with a majority of students being non-white. Our community of students, and our City, deserve a school name that promotes a positive connotation, rather than a relic of a racist past. Lanier is an amazing community, with fantastic accomplishments - please honor that, and bring a more inclusive representation to the school name. My daughters will attend this middle school when they are old enough, and I want their school experience to be inclusive, positive, and anti-racist. If the School Board is inclined to keep with the tradition of naming middle schools after poets, there are a plethora of Black or non-white poets whose legacy is worth honoring -- Audre Lorde, Phyllis Wheatley, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, just to name a few.

 

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I spoke with my parents and they told me about that you are thinking about changing the name, but you might not because his poetry wasn't about the Civil War. After going away to college, it really opened my eyes to living in Fairfax. People laughed when I said my school was named the Rebels and my middle school was named after a random poet who fought for the Confederate Army. I can't believe you might not vote to change. Please don't make my hometown make the national news because they voted to keep a school named after a Confederate soldier. Even if he didn't write his poetry about slavery, he fought to keep it. It is embarrassing. I thought I might move back to Fairfax when I get married but all of this makes me think it is not a place for me.

 

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No one in history will ever pass your "Purity Test". Big deal he fought for the Confederacy. Lots of people, including Virginians, did. So we cancel them from our history despite any good contributions they may have given to history??? How intolerant of anyone that wants to change the name. How far back shall we go? We need to rename all names, including Virginia, Fairfax, Washington, etc associated with slavery or colonialism? Shall we burn Mount Vernon, Williamsburg and Jamestown - how about Philadelphia and New York and Boston? We must then turn out sight on Africa because Africans were instrumental in selling their fellow Africans into slavery to the Arabs, who were the greatest slave traders in history. And wow, the Egyptions enslaved the Hebrews for centuries. Not to mention the Romans, who enslaved people in their known world. And any Native Americans name must go because they, also, had slaves and waged war on each other. Wow, we must cancel everyone everything everywhere because no one is immune to this purge. Have you read 1984? You are setting the stage for a 1984 society in the US. I am rereading it & it is so pertinent to today's madness. How I yearn for the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln during this time. A Civil War is always a terrible thing because it pits people that are from the same country against each other. But at the end of it, there is a recognition that to heal, then everyone is once again citizens of the same country & are treated the same. Lincoln, recognizing this wisdom, said "With Malice toward None; With Charity for all". How opposite of what we have today. Instead of viewing all of this through the prism of the march of human history of the triumphs we, as imperfect humans, have achieved from our earlier barbarism to our society today. But no, the Intolerants, wish to only view history through 1 lens and that is their lens. So we rename the school today to a "pure person"; in 20 years, the next Intolerants rename it in accordance to their 1 lens? And so on and so on. Intolerants' power grows with each "victory". Be careful, the next person may be you. No, do NOT change the name. Sydney Lanier was a great poet, and professor at Johns Hopkins University. He was a lawyer. He chose, as many did, to fight for their state in the Civil War. That should not cancel him from history.

 

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Many Fairfax County middle schools are named after poets. Please consider taking this opportunity to honor a female POC writer from Virginia. For example, Anne Spencer (1882-1975) was a poet associated with the Harlem Renaissance, as well as an educator, activist, and life-long Virginia resident. More information about her literary legacy is available at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/anne-spencer, among numerous other sources.

 

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The Civil War was the most divisive conflict in our country's history. Naming conventions should not honor that conflict, especially people who supported the side that advocated owning other humans. If we want our students to be Ethical and Global Citizens, we can't have them attend schools that honor people who did not embody the skills of an Ethical and Global Citizen.

 

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The criteria for changing the names of institutions are becoming more and more opague and, with this initiative, has taken us far too far down that slippery slope. Participation in a war that deeply split our country should hardly be the basis for condemning a persons life. As a nineteen year old, then as during the Vietnam War, the choice of which side or even whether to participate, was not driven by the ideals barely formed at that point in our youth. And the fact that his writings after this time do not espouse the virtues of slavery or white supremacy should be all the evidence you need that this does not meet whatever evolving criteria seemingly in play here. When are you all as leaders of our young people going to stand up and teach them the difference between the Jefferson Davis /Robert E. Lee's of the world and Sidney Lanier. If you haven't already figured it out I am 100% opposed to any name change as it relates to Sidney Lanier Middle School and am totally disgusted that this initiative has been allowed to go this far.

 

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Confederate school names celebrate and perpetuate the values of the Confederacy- racism, white supremacy slavery. Are these the values of the City of Fairfax? FCPS has already declared they are not their values. Change the name. (Perhaps an alternative would be to have FCPS sever the agreement based on your embrace of Confederate values?) Thank you.

 

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I believe this name change should definitely happen. I go to John R. Lewis HS in Fairfax and I’m proud to be represent Congressman Lewis. Can the children at Lanier say this about their school and who it’s named after? There are so many great people you could choose to rename the school after to honor them.

 

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The Civil War was fought over the moral issue of slavery. It was this long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. In fact, it was the economic engine of slavery and political control that began between northern states loyal to the Union and southern states that had seceded from the union to form the Confederate States of America. Fairfax County is a diverse community with people from all backgrounds and it is imperative that we stop honoring Confederate leaders by removing their names from our school buildings. It is time for us to speak up and start the process of renaming schools in an effort to heal our community and address the legacy of slavery and racism in Fairfax. Please consider a more appropriate name that celebrates the Fairfax community.

 

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I would like to offer this email of support for beginning the name change process for Sydney Lanier MS. We are in a place in our country to choose which side of history we want to land on. For the past 50+ years post “civil rights” we are still struggling as a nation. Educating our youth in equitable environments is a moral imperative. A school name change can be a resounding starting point for equity signaling to our students that we are committed to providing them and education in an inclusive environment. These names are glorifying the confederacy which is a direct slap in the face to your African AMERICAN students. The principal of FHS is taking the bold step to remove the Rebel mascot, how would it be possible to not even consider changing the name of Lanier the MS that directly feeds to FHS. Be bold, Be righteous, Be education leaders.

 

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I think that Lanier's name should be changed, period. In addition to being a Fairfax City resident and parent of FCPS students, I am a professor of nineteenth-century US literature at Mason. I assign my students Lanier's poetry in order to help them better understand how literature promoted white supremacists ideas about white masculinity and the romance of the Confederacy. Lanier was obsessed with the figure of the chivalric white knight which he and his white contemporaries romanticized in order to help justify and support anti-black racism and kin discourses like that created by the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Lanier's poetry, in other words, supported a misogynistic, anti-black racist vision of white male supremacy. I suggest that you rename the school after a poet, but how about the very influential nineteenth-century black feminist poet who was born in Baltimore--Frances E. W. Harper? Harper was first and foremost a poet, but she was also an important suffrage and abolition activist. She wrote the powerful feminist novel Iola Leroy, which explores how to pursue black racial uplift as black Americans after the Civil War, and helped found the National Association of Colored Women. I would much rather see someone who promoted a just vision of our nation, like Harper, honored than Lanier.

 

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Please rename the school. I suggest renaming it to Barbara Johns Middle School. Barbara Johns was black high school student in Farmville, VA. As a student, she lead peaceful protester against segregation. Her action was one of the five cases that made up Brown V Board. Let’s rename our school for a student activist.

 

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No person aligned with the Confederacy deserves to have a school named after them.

 

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Hello! My name is [redacted]. I am a Reading Resource Teacher at [redacted] and an active member of Fairfax Association of Black School Educators (FABSE). I am writing to voice my concern in changing the name of Lanier Middle School. We cannot continue to glorify and pay homage to Confederate soldiers that stood for the continuation of the Confederacy, which advanced slavery and supported systemic racism. Paying homage to the Confederacy by honoring soldiers with statues, building names, street signs, etc. perpetuates the evilness of white supremacy, blatantly recognizes the support of slavery and promotes the idea that it’s ok to be treasonous towards these United States. We are a learning institution, if we can’t get the history accurately right, then who will? A school name change is eminent and will reflect an inclusive environment that supports diversity and equity, and an accuracy in history. This action is long overdue, and we must stand on behalf of truth! Thank you!

 

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I applaud the efforts of the City of Fairfax and Fairfax County School Boards, Superintendents and communities to reevaluate the history of our local school names and mascots. Both my children attended Lanier MS, (Fairfax HS, WT Woodson HS); and we are fully supportive of change that will reflect the values Virginia now holds most true. Thank you.

 

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Thank you for the opportunity to submit thoughts to the Fairfax City School Board. I support the renaming of Lanier Middle School. As we continue to engage in conversations and learning about our country's past to understand our present, I believe it is important to be reflective and willing to make change where necessary. While the Civil War is a painful part of our past to many Americans, vestiges of the war continue to be present in our society. Many contend these vestiges of the Civil War contribute to the perpetuation of systemic racism and unfair practices against African Americans. Image the shame a young African American student would feel if when sitting in a classroom he/she learned over 140 years ago the Civil War was fought to continue the inhumanity of slavery. Now imagine learning that the school this student attends was named in honor of a man who would not support the student's right to freedom. Please consider how damaging this is/could be to the psyche of these young learners, and change the name of Lanier Middle School. Thank you.

 

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I consider Fairfax County and State to be innovative and on top of things. It would be a shame to be behind the learning curve and keep this name. Change is inevitable and this change is good. It shows black people in your community that you are aware of what's happening on every level and are willing to adjust. The school's name was chosen in 1959 and has yet to be touched. Show your community, young and old alike, that you recognize the problem and are willing to make powerful changes.

 

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Please do NOT name it after a person. We have no idea what might come out in the future as a negative, no matter how much good that person did.

 

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I appreciate that the board will consider renaming the school for a person (or concept) that we would be proud to teach our children. This is a wonderful opportunity to model the ideals of our community and FCPS. I trust the board will find a more suitable name for the school. Thank you for moving swiftly, Parent of a current student.

 

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Don't rename the Sidney Lanier school. It was named after the poet.

 

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Let's find something more representative of our community and its values.

 

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As the country moves slowly to recognize the significant impacts racism and slavery have had to date, it is important to question and reevaluate the status quo in our government, institutions, and our day to day lives. This is why I would like to call to attention and request the immediate change of Lanier Middle School’s name. I live just a half a mile from the school. Pass it regularly on my morning runs. In the past, I overlooked the name, it’s meaning, and why it’s memorialized. According to Don Nobles’ review of “Brother Sid: A Novel of Sidney Lanier”, Lanier’s legacy was enhanced and solidified by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The reason why we remember and celebrate his work is not because he was a great poet, it’s because the Daughters of Confederacy wanted us to. How many stories are there of people who were marginalized and discriminated against during the Civil War era whose stories, works of art, and lives are lost? Who will never have the chance to be memorialized because they did not have the same level of advocacy to continue their legacies? Whether we like it or not, to this day, we are still at the mercy of memorializing the “Lost Cause” and marginalizing those who suffered from it. I don’t have a specific alternative name but we have an opportunity to memorialize and recognize people who fight for equality, equity, justice. Let’s be the change!

 

 

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I would like the school name to be changed. It’s incredibly frustrating being a black person and being forced to go through multiple schools named after confederates or with racist mascot names. It essentially tells us that though we’re being told that we matter to you, the continued glorification of historic and systematic racism through these naming choices shows that you don’t truly care. Please, put yourself on the right side of history and change the name.

 

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As the country moves slowly to recognize the significant impacts racism and slavery have had to date, it is important to question and reevaluate the status quo in our government, institutions, and our day to day lives. This is why I would like to call to attention and request the immediate change of Lanier Middle School’s name. I live just a half a mile from the school. Pass it regularly on my morning runs. In the past, I overlooked the name, it’s meaning, and why it’s memorialized. According to Don Nobles’ review of “Brother Sid: A Novel of Sidney Lanier”, Lanier’s legacy was enhanced and solidified by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The reason why we remember and celebrate his work is not because he was a great poet, it’s because the Daughters of Confederacy wanted us to. How many stories are there of people who were marginalized and discriminated against during the Civil War era whose stories, works of art, and lives are lost? Who will never have the chance to be memorialized because they did not have the same level of advocacy to continue their legacies? Whether we like it or not, to this day, we are still at the mercy of memorializing the “Lost Cause” and marginalizing those who suffered from it. I don’t have a specific alternative name but we have an opportunity to memorialize and recognize people who fight for equality, equity, justice. Let’s be the change!

 

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I strongly support renaming Lanier Middle School. I have felt nothing but warmth and welcome from my Fairfax City community, and I want my daughter to go to a school someday with a name that reflects the diversity and values that made me want to call this city my family's home.

 

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I believe it would be fitting to name the school after Toni Morrison or Maya Angelou, both whom were prominent African-American writers of the modern era in America.

 

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In keeping with the MS being named after a writer and poet why not name it Phillis Wheatley MS. She was the first African American author of a book of poetry and a woman. She served as a role model for women writers as well. Wheatley MS has a nice ring to it.

 

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The school should be renamed for US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks.

 

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My sons (twins) will enter Lanier Middle School in 2021. As a historian I have been taught to look at the past with a critical eye, and I do hope the Board will do the same here In Virginia there was a movement in the 1920s-1960s to use the names of Confederate heroes in public spaces as a reminder of the Lost Cause. Sidney Lanier was one of these names- a unique man with an interesting life for certain- but how is it that a relatively unknown poet turned musician from Macon, GA came to have a school named after him in Fairfax, VA? I have to believe it is because he was touted as the Poet of the Confederacy, his name and his works championed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. I don’t think Sidney Lanier was an evil person- I do however think that the continued legitimization of the Confederacy is a problem we can solve. We now have the opportunity to rename this school. Might I suggest Anne Spencer Middle School?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Spencer

A poet, from Virginia- a black woman writing during the Harlem Renaissance and a civil rights leader at that. Whatever the name, I do hope we teach our children to look at history with a critical eye, to ask questions and to, when needed, dig deep and change- not history- but the future understanding of historical figures and events.

 

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It is time that Lanier have a name change. We say that Fairfax Schools is inclusive and supports diversity, yet the school itself is named after a confederate soldier. We as a community can and should do better. What we choose to call our schools matters. Names matter and it’s time we picked one that truly represents what we stand for.

 

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I watched some of your meeting on Monday and thought to myself how demoralizing and astonishing it is for African Americans to have to *beg* you to simply not have the name of their children's school, or the school where they work, or in the neighborhood where they live, honor someone who fought to keep slavery. We are not asking you to erase history, if his poetry was that great, teach it. You don't have to honor a man who took up arms to break a part the country over slavery. Here is your chance to inspire a group of children in your care. Please change the name. Please.

 

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I believe that the name of Lanier Middle School should be changed to enable change. I believe that the current name promotes racism since the school was named after poet Sidney Lanier, who served in the Confederate Army for five (5) years. If the name is changed, then it will show that racism is not acceptable and allow others to think about their actions and act accordingly. Thank you for your time and I hope you consider changing the name of Lanier Middle School.

 

 

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I believe that it should be changed so that it is welcoming to all families. So that it shows other figures and causes in history are important and should be revered as such. Why aren’t schools being named after people who have positively impacted their communities for all families of all backgrounds? I grew up in this area and think the name should reflect the multiculturally diverse community that FairfaxCounty is.

 

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PLEASE vote NO to the change of name for Lanier Middle School. I have lived in Fairfax City for 60 years and have had children and grandchildren attend there and hopefully great-grandchildren in the future. We have had enough changes in FX City already and if we continue changing names for everyone that has done some wrong in a few peoples eyes it is never going to end. PLEASE vote NO!!!!! Thank you!

 

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I support changing the school's name. I work for a fantastic organization that is always aiming to be better. Changing school names that honor racists is necessary. We're decades late on this "no-brainer" decision however, so let's spend time on the new name, not debating if this one must go. It must!

 

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I think it is a great step toward contributing to the state wide efforts to end the confederate praising presence in our school names across the state. I agree with it 100%.

 

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Please consider renaming Lanier Middle School. This school was named after a confederate soldier and hopefully does not represent the values of the staff, students and community being served. A school name should be a source of pride for all students rather than a source of pain for some students.

 

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I think it is the most ridiculous asinine idea. What are you people trying to accomplish ? The confederate army existed and it served its purpose for that time period and it is no fault of the soliders. You can not change history and most people other than the rabid liberal anarchist agree. I strongly disagree with changing any names or taking down of statues from the era. The governor of Virginia should worry about his own reputation with his KKK costume.

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I am in favor of changing the name of Lanier Middle School. I would suggest naming it after a female poet.

 

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Ok so since 1959 we’ve had this as the school name for the work Sydney did as a poet and now that small portion of the nation suddenly woke up and wants to abolish everything that is related to any negative issues ? Sydney was summed to fight in the confederate war at age 18 and was recognized for his work for 61 years! Now he is to be shunned ? Simply appalled ! People need to get a grip! Leave the school name alone! Yet like many other things along this line; you are simply checking a box and you will change the name no matter what you hear from others!

 

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Please re-name it for a black American. It’s inappropriate to honor a member of a rebel army, which sought to perpetuate hereditary racial slavery and end the American union, by naming a public school after him. School is where kids should learn that slavery and racism is wrong. It’s harder to teach that lesson in a building that honors a champion of slavery and racism.

 

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The name does not represent the city of Fairfax, our people, or our history. The name should be changed.

 

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More and more we are seeing violent rioters destroy our cities and advocate for violent/progressive ideologies. Please keeps the name the same to preserve the legacy of the brave Americans that fought for the Confederacy, but ultimately failed to preserve the character of the nation. They were the true successors of the original United States or America.

 

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Whose idea is it that the name of LMS needs to be changed and why? Sidney Clopton Lanier was an American musician , poet & author. He was known as the "poet of the Confederacy". A U.S. postage stamp honors him as an "American Poet". He graduated 1st in his class at Oglethorpe University before fighting in the Confederate Signal Corps during the Civil War. He was a teacher, Principal of a school, lawyer and Organist at a church. If one takes time to research the history of this man's life, they should be proud to be a part of a school named for him. Why go to the expense of changing the name of the school when it serves no purpose?

 

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Ji-won Kim Middle school He came here in 2005 from South Korea he is now a famous rapper in a band. he is one of the most famous people who lived in the city of Fairfax, using his name would show our pride and our openness to others who were not born here but made their home in this community.

 

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PLEASE rename this school! FCPS needs to show it is a welcome place for all, and won't give the honor of naming a school to anyone who shamelessly fought for the enslavement of thousands. This is an easy call. Thank you for doing what's right!

 

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Without researching the name behind the middle school itself, it looks completely harmless. Though a poet, the history of Sidney Lanier is not one that should be on children's shirts and other apparel. The name should be related to a monumental author and poet of which they had an impact that influences positive change and good spirits.

 

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Greetings, As a parent of a current Lanier student, I was pleased to hear that the name of the school was under consideration for a change. With a diverse student body and staff, and an emphasis on equity and respect, it is apparent that the time has come to choose a name that better reflects the values of our extended community instead of being named after a person who did not uphold those values of inclusion. Our family genuinely wishes that a more suitable name be considered with input from the students, staff and parents. Of course there are always financial considerations to be overcome, but in this case the message to students, particularly of color, of not changing with the times outweighs any monetary costs. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Sincerely, [Redacted]

 

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Suggestion John Lewis middle school

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Please change the name to Libtard Middle School, as that is the only name that accurately reflects the government of the City of Fairfax. Thank you.

 

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I am a former staff member of Lanier and am currently a staff member of [redacted] I support changing the name of Lanier MS as a result of Sidney Lanier serving in the Confederate Army and known as the "poet of the Confederacy". The time is long overdue to remove the names from schools of individuals who fought to maintain slavery in the United States.

 

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I feel like changing the name is unnecessary. Most people do not associate the name Lanier with the Confederacy. And anyone that is that educated on Civil War history also understands just how complex that history is. I understand that the City of Fairfax is wrestling with its relationship with the past. And this is an important dialogue for us to be having as a community right now. But, this particular change feels superficial and unnecessary. And the energy could be better spent on promoting racial literacy in the school itself, addressing any education gap that exists in our community, etc. Besides, if we try to erase the names of anyone with any darkness in their past, we'll have no role models left at all.

 

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Name and Address Redacted

via https://www.cityoffairfaxschools.org/apps/form/LanierComment

RE: Public Comment for Lanier Middle School

Dear Sirs: Regarding the potential renaming of Sidney Lanier Middle School What is the stated reason for naming Sidney Lanier Middle School as such in the first place? Lanier (2020) records: During the 1950s and 1960s, FCPS named many of their middle schools after poets, continuing with Sidney Lanier. What specific reasons are there to change the name of Sidney Lanier Middle School? Is there disapproval of Sidney Lanier's person or actions? The Lanier webpage does not provide much reasoning, except, "Lanier was a member of the Confederate Army from 1861-1865." Mere service in the Confederate Army is not much of a reason, especially today, when so many utter the words, "Thank you for your service," when they have no idea what the service member or former service member actually did. According to Britannica, Lanier was "Appointed to Johns Hopkins University in 1879." Note that this was after the war and that Johns Hopkins University is located in Maryland, which fought against Lanier's Confederate Army. What did Lanier actually do in the Confederate Army that was so terrible? Lanier wrote much. What of his writings make maintaining the current name of the school undesirable? What does a renaming say about all those school board members, principals, alumni, students, and citizens who have thus far abstained from renaming the school? Governor Northam has written in general terms about school renaming. Do his comments apply to Sidney Lanier Middle School? The names of public places, streets, and schools send messages to our children about what we value most as a society (Northam). Alan Kay has said, "The only intrinsic meaning of a mark is that it is there." What was the intended meaning of the name of Sidney Lanier Middle School? What message was it supposed to send? It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to assist our children in the meaningful interpretation of these names. What have our parents and teachers taught thus far? Apparently, someone valued poetry. Is that so bad? When those names reflect our broken and racist past, they also perpetuate the hurt inextricably woven into this past (Northam). We all have a broken past. All have sinned. I do not have a racist past. Perhaps some of my ancestors were racist: we all have racist, or at least ethnocentric, ancestors. When our public schools are named after individuals who advanced slavery and systematic racism, and we allow those names to remain on school property, we tacitly endorse their values as our own. This is no longer acceptable (Northam). Did Sidney Lanier advance slavery? How? Did Sidney Lanier advance systematic racism? How? From what little I have gathered about Sidney Lanier, I understand he was a man of letters. He seems to have cared about communicative language. Is that not in lock-step with what a middle school is all about---teaching students to communicate well? ... these school names and symbols have a traumatizing impact on our students, families, teachers and staff of all backgrounds (Northam). What trauma does the name Sidney Lanier cause at and around Sidney Lanier Middle School? Recognizing the harmful impact these school names have on our children, I am calling on school boards to evaluate the history behind your school names (Northam). What harmful impact? Evaluating the history is what we have likely been neglecting all along. Does the History Department at Lanier offer a lecture or printed materials on Sidney Lanier's works (whether as a poet, lecturer, soldier, or otherwise)? Renaming things is a way of further neglecting history. Now is the time to change them to reflect the inclusive, diverse, and welcoming school community every child deserves, and that we, as leaders of the Commonwealth, have a civic duty to foster (Northam). Northam has been governor for a while. Why is now the time? Because it's popular? The willingness to demonize and erase the history of the Confederacy and any who may have been part of it exhibits not inclusivity, but intolerance, especially when the Union is so glorified in contrast. Intolerance of what? Of dissenting views? Of opposition to tyranny? Of the desire for self governance? Of the right to peacefully withdraw from a voluntary union? If the school is to be renamed, may it be renamed by the students, teachers, staff, and parents rather than by the School Board.

 

Sincerely,

[Name Redacted]

 

Parent of three former Sidney Lanier Middle School students,

Fairfax City resident,

Father of fifth-generation Fairfax City residents.

 

REFERENCES Lanier Middle School - Background (Downloaded 2020-08-30) https://www.cityoffairfaxschools.org/apps/pages/index. jsp?uREC_ID=1662466&type=d&pREC_ID=1968783

Northam RS (2020-07-06) letter from Governor Ralph S. Northam to the School Board Chairs of the Commonwealth [of Virgina] https://www.cityoffairfaxschools.org/apps/pages/index. jsp?uREC_ID=1662466&type=d&pREC_ID=1968783 Britannica (Downloaded 2020-08-30)

"Sidney Lanier: American poet" https://www.britannica.com/biography/Sidney-Lanier Draft Public Engagement Plan (Downloaded 2020-08-30)

https:// //fairfax.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=11&clip_id= 2324&meta_id=82003 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION DiLorenzo TJ (2012-07-2) "Lincoln vs. the Constitution" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVmgUqv8ZcE DiLorenzo TJ. other works.

Agenda for School Board Regular Meeting (Downloaded 2020-08-30) https://fairfax.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=11& clip_id=2324 School Board Meetings (2020-07-06) https://www. //fairfaxva.gov/services/about-us/city-meetings

 

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I think it would be good to get away from naming buildings after people and go more with a landmark or regional name. Maybe Courthouse Middle School, or Fairfax City Middle School, or Fairfax Middle School.

 

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Endorse changing the name of the school.

 

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I think Lanier should be renamed in honor of either Michelle Obama or Chadwick Boseman. Michelle- African American woman are severely underrepresented in honor namings in the DC area (Less than 10%), and with everything going on with black lives matter, I think it would be powerful to name a school after an influential first lady. Michelle Obama is a lawyer, advocate for the rights of underrepresented groups, author, first lady and an all around amazing person. She is a role model for many young woman, and has changed lives with her advocacy work, speeches and her book (Becoming Michelle Obama). I think you should strongly consider Michelle Obama as a potential choice for the renaming of Lanier. Chadwick- Chadwick Boseman was an amazing actor who brought us many movies, shows and powerful moments. He is a role model for all children and played one of the first african american superheros in the MCU. While battling cancer, he went around to childrens hospitals to bring joy to the patients and helped raise awareness for the black lives matter movement. He had cancer for four years as well as surgeries and chemo, but never let that stop him and persevered with unwavering strength. While he was battling cancer he filmed movies, performed advocacy work and changed the world. This is the kind of strength and passion that I think kids at Lanier should embody, and I would be happy to say that I went to Chadwick Boseman Middle School.

 

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Keep the name of Lanier Middle School!

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I am totally confused about the request to have the Sidney Lanier School name changed. First, he did not own slaves. Unfortunately he was named "Poet of the Confederacy" by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. He wrote his great poetry after the Civil War, and his works did not include the Confederacy. He was honored by a United States postage stamp printed in his honor, among with many other honors .Do I understand that Mark Twain Middle School in Falls Church is the next target? WHY?? After the war,he became the greatest literary giant in the history of our country, receiving many honors. The Civil War was fought to abolish slavery and it was abolished, yes? Why not concentrate on the positives of that time, instead of dwelling on the negative? Why are you condemning the citizens of that time for a small part of their lives, their service in the Confederacy? Can we not realize that these men and many more like them, contributed much to our republic beyond that time? What is really accomplished by replacing one name for another? It changes nothing, except satisfying a group that is just causing dissension and anger at something none of us can even relate to. If there is such interest in "change" in America, how about concentrating on the problems of 2020 instead of 1860-65? How about things like starving children, homeless people, and getting the best in education for our children? Deal with positive changes and stop trying to change things that cannot be changed by removing a name from a school building!

 

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Let the name stay. Use Lanier's story as part of teaching U.S. history and historical poetry/music.

 

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I grew up on Armstrong Street a block from City Hall in Fairfax. I went to both Sidney Lanier Middle School and Fairfax High School. Fairfax history is rooted in the Confederacy; it's no fault of where we grew up and where we lived, it's fact. While I may be persuaded to acknowledge some may take offense to the Confederate Battle Flag, I think it's a fool's game to disavow history. Sidney Lanier was a talented poet of note and worthy namesake of our learning institution. It could be considered his misfortune to be born and raised below the Mason / Dixon Line in these politically correct of times. If the board renames our school, let it be PS 38, Jermantown Road Middle, or something as equally benign. Sharpton or Obama don't need any further publicity. While you're at it, why not try to disavow the Mason / Dixon Line altogether and raise a generation of children unaware of where we came from; tear those pages from the history books, or just rewrite them to suit your needs. If debate of these topics is considered the best use of limited resources, rather than the betterment of our school system, then I decry so much ignorance. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

 

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In light of all of the unrest going around the country, I believe it is necessary for the board to change the name of the LMS. When a new name is being consider, the name should be from the city. Prominent Fairfax City citizens (Pierre J. Thuot, Dr. Kate Waller Barrett, or John C Wood) or a geographic location from the city (Jermantown) would be the most appropriate.

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just pick a name that isn't a proper human name - name it after a geographic location, landscape, landscape feature, etc. History will reveal anything named after a person will be challenged based on the perspective of the day.

 

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I applaud the effort to replace school names derived from Confederate sympathizers. My suggestions:

  • Eagle Middle School (derived from the school mascot)
  • Fairfax Middle School (derived from being part of the City of Fairfax school pyramid)
  • Jermantown Middle School (derived from the road and area the school is located)
  • (if Civil war reference is important) Ulysses S. Grant Middle School (derived from the successful Union General and President)

-Angelou Middle School (for Maya Angelou)

 

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Thanks for asking for feedback on the name of Lanier Middle School. I have been very supportive of changing the names of things named after Confederate leaders and generals, such as the name change of J.E.B. Stuart High School, and Jefferson Davis Highway. I also am supportive of the idea that middle schools in Fairfax County/City are usually named after poets. I think this serves to have students look at artists and writers as worthy of praise and pride, and to hopefully encourage them to look more into the writings of those people. I went to Frost Middle School and I now love and appreciate his poetry (also because of its reverence for nature). I don't know a lot about Lanier, but I know that his membership in the Confederate Army doesn't necessarily mean that he was a leader of pushing Confederate ideals... I honestly had no idea he was even associated with the Confederacy until the request for comment was put forth. I think we should definitely re-examine and remove references to previously over-glorified Confederate leaders, and evaluate others, like Lanier, on a case by case basis. So, here are the questions I think need to be answered: Why did he sign up for the Confederate Army? Do we know? Was it a major part of his life? Are we "un-glorifying" everyone in the South during the Civil War? Or should we only seek to take down artificially-exalted (during Jim Crow as an intimidation tactic towards African Americans) Confederate icons and idealogues? I think the latter is a better approach. Since having middle schools named after poets encourages us to take pride in our school's namesake and explore their writing, do the writings of Lanier meet our modern moral and ethical standards? I looked up a couple of his poems and most seem to be romantic sonnets. This article makes it seems like most works are about the natural world and Southern ecology, moral values, and music. Does his writing contain references that glorify slavery and the "Southern cause" or denigrate African Americans? If so, then a name change should definitely be considered. If not, then I think the name should stay the same. Thanks for asking, and while I would normally immediately support a name change that glorifies the ideals and leaders of the Confederacy, this seems to be a gray area without those questions answered. 

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Please change the name. The confederacy took up arms and turned traitor to the United States of America in order to be able to preserve slavery. We must never glorify any person associated with it. I think it should be changed to something simple like Jermantown (road it is on) or Fairchester Woods (neighborhood it is apart of). Do NOT name it after another person.

 

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I am a graduate of Fairfax High school. Our team name "the rebels" was changed because some people choose to see the rebels as a racist name. The only reason these names are changed or statues are torn down is because people are afraid. Afraid of what once was and afraid of the power these names hold. The civil war happened and we need to accept it. Changing schools names is not going to fix what happened or impact the future. It's just trendy and cool. Schools are hopping on this bandwagon of removing "Confederate propaganda" because they are trying to seem more inclusive without actually putting in effort to make it more inclusive. Focus on educating people on diversity and making a friendly and inclusive environment rather than blaming it on a name.

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I thoroughly agree with renaming monuments to confederate leaders and racists, but I see no evidence that Lanier was one. He was a private, and therefore not a leader, and nothing in his later works suggest racism. This article explains it well https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/lanier-middle-school-name-change/amp/.

 

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I am a Fairfax County resident and I am writing to encourage you to rename Lanier Middle School. I myself went to Langston Hughes Middle School and each year we had a wonderful opportunity to read some of his work, discuss his influence on the literary world and appreciate Black culture in America. It is very important right now to remove segregationist/ confederate names from our schools and promote diversity and representation. I would recommend choosing a Black or some other BIPOC figure form history to rename the school.

 

 

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I support changing the name of Sidney Lanier Middle School.

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This name should absolutely be changed because it has no tie to the community and has an outdated tie that is unnecessarily offense to our minority populations who already struggle to have a standard playing field. It does not negatively impact anyone.

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I think it’s a complete waste of time, resources, and most of all, taxpayer money to make all these name changes. That money could be put towards technology to be used for distance learning, or perhaps paying the teachers more. Why have school names? Just number them and no one will be offended. The name doesn’t impact the level of education being instituted. Bad decisions being are made by FCPS.

 

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I am writing to voice my concern in changing the name of Lanier Middle School. We cannot continue to glorify and pay homage to Confederate soldiers that stood for the continuation of the Confederacy, which advanced slavery and supported systemic racism. Paying homage to the Confederacy by honoring soldiers with statues, building names, street signs, etc. perpetuates the evilness of white supremacy, blatantly recognizes the support of slavery and promotes the idea that it’s ok to be treasonous towards these United States. We are a learning institution, if we can’t get the history accurately right, then who will? A school name change is eminent and will reflect an inclusive environment that supports diversity

and equity, and an accuracy in history. This action is long overdue, and we must stand on behalf of truth!

 

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Thank you for the opportunity to comment. My children are future "Lanier" students. Fairfax is a strong community known for excellent schools. However, it is impossible for learning (or quality teaching) to occur when a school is consumed by underlying microaggressions, including Confederate references and valorization of the Confederacy. To ignore or dismiss these references is unethical and sends a clear message of who matters and who is welcome in our school and community. Schools are named after

people with values and actions we respect and aspire to emulate ... Without question, change the name.

Use this as a teaching opportunity for our children and model for other communities.

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Why don't you worry about important things or quit trying to change the damn name of schools are you so weak and so insecure that you have to change names pathetic

 

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As someone who attended Lanier Middle School I would welcome a name change and was hoping the following name would be considered: Anne SpencerAlthough she was not a native Virginian, she lived the majority of her life in Virginia. She was a part of the Harlem Renaissance contributing her poetry. She is also the second African American to be featured in the Norton Anthology of American Poetry. As far as I can tell a school has not been named after her and I feel it would be fitting if Lanier were to be renamed Anne Spencer Middle School.

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A rename suggestion is for the poet Anne Spencer.

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Why rename Lanier Middle School? Because Sidney Lanier served as a private in the signal corps of the Confederate army? Was he ideologically pro-slavery? This "canceling," renaming, and whitewashing of history has gotten out of hand.

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I was unaware we were changing the Lanier middle school name. To be honest, I have only googled him since this has come up today. However, upon learning about him I understand that he was a poet and musician and has some Amazing quotes. That being said, I would never want my child attending a school named for any white supremacist. However, it seems to me that Lanier was only a private in the civil war confederacy and has no known statements of racial likeness. That being said, please consider educating the children that attend there about who Sidney Lanier was. I came across this information and I hope you pass it along to the decision makers on this because some of his quotes were fantastic. Thanks for reaching out to the https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/lanier-middle-school-name-change/

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Lanier wasn't a decorated leader or general, but he was still a member of the Confederate Army. He joined an army that fought to keep slavery. What will you tell the kids when they walk through the door? Get over it? That the school board elected to look out for them thinks that a man with no ties to Virginia who happened to write some poems about nature that no one ever reads is more important? If the past few weeks have taught us anything is that these things make a difference. These messages we send to our children throughout their lives tell them they are not valued. These names hurt kids. The students you are supposed to "inspire and empower children" as your website says. You have a chance to make a difference - to inspire and empower. Please lead.

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Retain name - Sidney Lanier was a writer, musician, composer and educator. His flaws and his strengths can be taught at our school.

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After watching our president on the TV this morning when asked if the names of military bases should be changed (after the reporter said the military wants to) and the President said "I don't care what the military wants." Two things popped in my head:

1 - the youth of today are asking for change. By voting to keep the name of their school, you are saying "I don't care what they want"

2 - if you are picking sides or teams, who is going to be on your side if you vote not to change the name. Is that really the side where you want to be?

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Fairfax City has been a wonderful location in which to raise my children. With excellent schools and a strong sense of community, they thrived here. While I knew that FCPS middle schools were named for poets, I didn’t recognize Sydney Lanier’s name. I can only blame myself for not looking into why. Now that I know who he was, I must insist that his name be removed from the school. A person must feel safe and accepted in order to learn and grow and be a part of a community. By nature of having their school named for a Poet of the Confederacy, the children who attend Lanier Middle are not being kept emotionally safe. Walking through the doors and halls of a school named for a Confederate is demoralizing to the children and sends the message that we hold his values in high esteem. We must replace his name with one that stands for inclusion and diversity, and joy in the beauty of all peoples and cultures. I suggest Maya Angelou, a versatile and popular writer, honored and awarded many times, both in the US and internationally. She was not only a poet and autobiographer, but also a journalist, a playwright, and an activist. She may well be the most well-known and popular American poet in recent history, and she has influenced our culture tremendously.

 

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My son attends eagle view elementary and I have volunteered at the clinics at EVES, Willow Springs, Union Mill and Lanier Middle in the past. He will attend Lanier. My family and I fully support the name change for Lanier! I think it’s odd to honor traitors to the United States. Further, I feel that naming things after confederate generals is done to try to intimidate people of color. Rename the school after someone else or after a significant part of Fairfax history that honors a move in the right direction or positive contributions to FAIRFAX, Virginia, or the United States. Ruth Bader Ginsburg Middle has a nice ring to it!

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I am writing to encourage you to change the name of Lanier high school to honor a worthy American hero. I understand there may not be a sense of urgency on this action, possibly because Lanier is a lesser known Confederate leader. But the history remains, and the community and its students will be better off changing this racist legacy. I would like to suggest narrowing the search to a notable Virginia woman, preferably of color. As a person supporting equal rights and a strong believer in equity, it is hard to fathom who would take issue with renaming the school after someone who vehemently pursued equity and equal treatment under the law - but I know they are out there. In spite of this I encourage the board to employ moral courage and make the change to honor a true American hero we can all be proud of. The racists will come along in time, or their children will, to make this a better, safer place for us all to be.

 

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Members of the Fairfax City School Board: I was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 12. My parents gave me the middle name Lincoln because Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12. Lincoln is so iconic in Illinois that the Illinois license plates read: “Land of Lincoln.” Given my middle name, from a very early age, I became curious, perhaps obsessive, about learning everything I could about Lincoln. I have read numerous books about him, including, but not limited to, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals. In 2012, I saw the movie - Lincoln - that Steven Spielberg made based, in part, on Team of Rivals about President Lincoln’s successful effort to pass a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery - the 13th Amendment. In the 1960s, I even saw the poet and Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg at the Civil War cemetery in Gettysburg where President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address a century earlier. Breaking News: The Confederacy lost the Civil War in 1865. General Lee surrendered to General Grant in Virginia. I have lived in Virginia since 1978 and do not understand why any public school in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2020 should be named for anyone who fought for the Confederacy. Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution states, in part: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” It is not appropriate, to say the least, to have any schools named after someone who committed treason. The Confederacy was not a benign piece of American history. As the succession documents make clear, the Confederacy was created to uphold the pernicious economic and racist system of slavery - that it was acceptable for one person to own another person, treat them as property to be bought and sold, and force them to work without compensation. The history of slavery and white supremacy should be taught in public schools, but the honoring of the Confederacy must finally stop. It is past time. Please change the name of Lanier. Thank you.

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Fairfax Alliance of Black School Educators (FABSE) strongly endorses the motion to remove Sidney Lanier from the middle school named in his honor. Mr. Lanier was a confederate soldier who fought to continue the enslavement of Blacks in our country. His actions do not match with the values of our communities or school division. We respectfully ask that you act to redact his name from the building and rename the school to one that better represents the diversity of the school and community.

Fairfax City is a diverse community. Forty five percent of its residents are minorities. It is disrespectful to those families to send their students to a school named after a man who would not have granted them basic them the basic dignity of freedom. We know diversity is a strength in our schools and country, and we implore you to consider all who enter this school. On July 8, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam wrote a letter to all the schools located in the commonwealth to change the names and mascots named after Confederate soldiers. He wrote, “Those names reflect our broken and racist past, they also perpetuate the hurt inextricably woven into this past,” Governor Northam goes on to say “When our public schools are named after individuals who advanced slavery and systemic racism, and we allow those names to remain on school property, we tacitly endorse their values as our own.”

 

The One Fairfax Model commits the county and schools to intentionally consider equity when making policies or delivering programs and services. As an association, we contend it is inequitable and unjust to subject any of our minority students, but particularly our Black students, to the indignity of entering a building named after a man who did not support their basic human rights. In conclusion, during his life Sidney Lanier did not espouse the values of the educators or students who walk the hallways of the community or our schools. Our governor has endorsed the removal of these vestiges of systemic racism from our public schools.

 

The One Fairfax Model’s commitment to equity supports our request that you make this necessary change. We challenge the Fairfax City Schools Board to pass resolutions to change the name of this institution and select a name that appropriately reflects the values, hopes and vision of all stakeholders.

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I would like to offer this email of support for beginning the name change process for Sydney Lanier MS. We are in a place in our country to choose which side of history we want to land on. For the past 50+ years post “civil rights” we are still struggling as a nation. Educating our youth in equitable environments is a moral imperative. A school name change can be a resounding starting point for equity signaling to our students that we are committed to providing them and education in an inclusive environment. These names are glorifying the confederacy which is a direct slap in the face to your African AMERICAN students. The principal of FHS is taking the bold step to remove the Rebel mascot, how would it be possible to not even consider changing the name of Lanier the MS that directly feeds to FHS. Be bold, Be righteous, Be education leaders.

 

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Please change the name of Lanier Middle School. Do what is right in renaming this school and rebuking anti-Black racism.

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I am writing to cast my vote to change the name of Lanier MS. The reason I am voting for a name-change is that our history of the Civil War includes a divided country over the moral issue of slavery. Lanier MS is named after Sidney Lanier, an active Confederate soldier who fought to keep Black folk enslaved. Moving forward, I feel that we must not continue to teach our children that honoring people who fought to enslave, belittle, behead, divide, demean, depreciate, and disgrace an entire community of people as being just. Renaming schools that honor Confederate leaders is but one way to help heal our entire nation and address the legacy of slavery and racism in Fairfax County. Please count my vote as a vote to change the name of Lanier MS. Thank you

 

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American history began in Virginia and it must be preserved! Historical markers, memorials, battlefields, statues, flags, streets names, buildings, etc., serve as reminders of how we grew up as a state and country. These physical reminders are viewed by the beholder and the mind reacts, whether good or bad, whereas an unopened history book imparts no knowledge. Allowing the destruction and removal of these reminders only exacerbates racial disparity which causes me to denounce this movement. There are several million people living today whose ancestors fought in the Civil War, also known as the war of northern aggression. These reminders throughout the south, in Virginia, and in battlefields such as Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg, represent America’s holocaust museum. I and many more Americans have ancestors that fought on both sides and all were known as Americans. I further offer my rationale as to the importance of these reminders, racial disparity and solutions.

 

If not blighted by the lack of reverence for the facts, history becomes a great teacher as it lays hindsight before us in our journey through life. Historical reminders are everywhere in this nation. They serve to remind us of its fragile beginnings though all the events that makes this nation what it is today. Civil War reminders are part of our history and heritage, regardless of where they are. They are not symbolic of oppression or hatred; they are actual reminders of human frailty and fortitude. They serve to remind us of a horrific conflict causing tremendous loss of life. Great pain and suffering had no boundary but they serve to remind us that gallant men on both sides who fought and died for causes they believed in. Of the more than 620,000 men, boys, and women who gave their lives during this time, the overwhelming majority never owned a slave.

 

These markers also serve as reminders for the black community to honor the heritage of its people whose will and fortitude allowed them to endure the trials and tribulations of slavery and also to honor their hard labor that contributed towards the creation of this nation.

 

Many honorable men, such as Lee and Jackson, were conflicted regarding their allegiance in an era of state’s rights. They served their state, right of wrong. Prior to the war, these men served this nation with distinction and many continued to do so after the war.

 

To ignore history and remove its reminders blurs life’s pathway. If we heed to our historical reminders, this nation and its people will be the better for it. It must be noted that to escape centuries of servitude, slavery, religious persecution, and human strife, people sought to seek a free life in the new world regardless of the hazards that would lie ahead. Twelve years later, others who as a free people were captured by their own kind and sold into slavery and sent to the new world as human machinery. These two diverse peoples unknown to one another and with a common need to survive built over the next 160 plus years a commerce that contributed mightily to the creation of this nation. Seventy-five plus years later, issues other than just slavery divided this nation. The civil war exacted a toll on American life that is exceeded only by combining all loss of life in wars that followed.

 

The plight of former slaves is akin to the coal miners, the blue-collar laborers, and the child laborers of that era. Many of the issues that existed have been resolved but racial disparity still exists 155 years later.

 

During my 80 plus years, I have seen a few attempts to placate racial disparity but only two to resolve it. The first was Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of racial equality. His life was taken before his dream could be brought to fruition. However, segregation was abolished and yet racial disparity still lingers. The other I am seeing is this current administration’s attack on the core issues that are the root causes of racial disparity.

There is no instant cure. As this stigma has been festering for over two centuries. The focus is on issues such as education, employment, health and human services, the rule of law and order, business opportunity, and very importantly community participation. All are very important, but education is tantamount. For years, black children’s education has been provided by inferior schools and the street. Both are guilty of promoting lawlessness and both must be shuttered. Before a new school system can serve its students properly community support, parental guidance and respect of law and order has to be restored.

 

The accomplishments to date are criminal reform prison reform, charter schools for black children striving to get ahead, increased and long-term funding for black colleges, vastly increased employment for the black community and a directive to police reform. Under the direction of Dr. Ben Carson, opportunity zones, vocational training, healthcare, human services, and housing development are progressing in the inner cities and other hard-hit black communities. These are steps in the right direction with much more needed to achieve racial equality. This provides a ray of hope for the black community. Unfortunately the news media’s interest lies with the sensational such as a protest that turns into confrontation, looting, vandalism, and mayhem, or police brutality rather than the mundane reality of working to resolve a two centuries old stigma or more horribly that black on black killings and maiming’s taking place in our cities daily. These killings far far exceed police on black killings yet the only time black on black killings makes the news is when it involves police or if it’s a child or infant involved. So much for black lives matter which is nothing more than a facade for devious intentions while perpetrating fraud upon the black community.

 

Another hot topic is police brutality, regardless of how difficult and hurtful, it must be addressed. Police are sworn to uphold the law and order is for the public to respect the law and accept the consequences for disobeying it. There are people that should not be police officers and there are a greater number of people, both blacks and whites that have no respect for law and order. I feel police are very suspicious of blacks when approaching in an attempt to interact or arrest. Look at the resistance to arrest, the killings or maiming of police while upholding the law gives good reason. Blacks on the other hand are distrustful of police and with good reason. Look at what has happened recently and also in the past. This further reinforces the dire need of education for ALL and gain new respect for law and order by ALL.

The racial terminology being bantered about like chafe in the wind is to be directed only to the individuals that cause issues. However, racial issues are being co-mingled with other agendas that are not related. With continued protests and destruction of government and personal property that no longer pertain to racial issues, it’s time to cease all this horse hockey and have responsible people from the black community whose agenda is the resolution of equality sit down with like-minded people from the white community and come up with the road map that will bring racial equality to fruition.

This must be done because racial equality cannot be given as it was granted over 230 years ago but no guidance given. 157 years ago, slaves were freed with no guidance given. Law doesn’t create racial equality only the people can by their actions.

 

I feel logic has become a skewed in addressing racial disparity. I am an elderly citizen and a 60-year Virginia resident. My mother was born in Virginia and her grandfather and others fought with the Army of Virginia. As a young woman, she taught black children in a one room school house with little amenities. My father was born in Pennsylvania. His two great uncles and others fought in the Union Army. I was born in Pennsylvania and lived in a rural area going through school without people of color present. However, my parents returned to Virginia often while I was growing up. Words of that era were quite common, signs stating “colored section”, “no colored allowed”, “colored restroom”, or “Negro school” were prevalent. My parents explained race and color is immaterial…it’s the person. Over my 80+ years, I have known quite a number of very fine black folks from all walks of life, including children of former slaves that never had a day of formal education, porters in a department store, garbage men, delivery men, servicemen, NFL football players, business executives, and a U.S. Senator. I have also known white folks that never had a day of formal education and both black and white folks that pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps while not relying on the system. I have known both blacks and whites that are content to just exist and take what might come their way, like welfare.

 

What’s happened in the past is recorded history and it can’t be changed Think of the millions upon millions that’s been spent protecting life and property, the lives, the injuries and the millions more being spent to eradicate history. The Nazis attempted similar acts in Germany. The sad fact is that if all that money were spent in the attack on racial disparity, we would be closer to racial equality. The library of laws provides the opportunity, but society bears the responsibility of bringing it to fruition and that requires the races to be responsible for their actions and helping one another in achieving mutual respect of the law. I have stated why my rationale is what it is and ask you to take it under consideration.

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Thanks for the opportunity to send this comment.  I am [redacted] of the Chantilly Pyramid Minority Student Achievement Committee (www.cpmsac.org).  Since 1984, our organization has been partnering with schools in Western Fairfax County to increase parental involvement and student participation to enhance the social and emotional growth, and academic achievement of minority students.  Among our program endeavors are:

  • STEP (Saturday Toward Excellence Program)Tutoring Service primarily as recommended by school counselors  
  • Annual Youth Motivation & Academic Awards Programs (ES, MS – including Lanier, and HS)
  • College Bound Scholarships
  • Student, Parent & Family Involvement

CPMSAC encourages schools to promote inclusiveness in a social and bi-racial environment.  Therefore, we render this opinion to the Lanier MS Name Change Hearing that the name of a public school should not detract from such an environment.

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We have had [redacted] children, [redacted] grandchildren [redacted] nieces and nephews attend Sidney Lanier and for the past fifty years we have never heard a comment regarding its name until this was announced in the city scene. Upon inquiring as to why I learned Fairfax co. had named the school after a poet and he had been a confederate soldier thus the reason for change. I looked up his biography and found it quite impressive. I trust you have too.

It's our opinion that you recognize a person not by what they were, but what they became; so how do you recognize the millions of descendants of confederate soldiers or the black community's recognition

of the descendants of their ancestors captors?

Fairfax city's notoriety is civil war history and these reminders are here for good reason so do not ignore or bury them to placate a political point of view which resolves nothing, instead learn from them.

What's taught in a school is of the utmost importance in resolving racial issues. Wasting time and money on name changing is only counter productive.

I stated in an earlier e-mail to you that history is a great teacher and we must heed its reminders. Our nation and its people will be the better for it.

 

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Name Recommendation - Dr. Pauli Murray

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It is very difficult to understand how a person serving their civic duty to serve his State by serving in the military for four years, due to where he lived, can affect his status so many years later.

It is difficult for me to think that ANY student attending Lanier Middle School is traumatized by his name.  I would venture to say many students don't even know who he was.  Someone had to dig deep to learn that he served in the confederate military.

I believe changing the name is trying to change history, instead of educating people about history so that the negative is not repeated.  It is a waste of money to rename schools.  If this is our foreseeable future, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND naming schools a "NUMBER" because you will ALWAYS have at least one person offended.  You can never please everyone.

 

I am writing to petition that we retain the Sydney Lanier name for our school.  Mr. Lanier was not only a poet, but a writer, lawyer and lecturer at Johns Hopkins University.  These are very impressive accomplishments.

Even though he was part of the Confederacy, he was summoned to join.  Among other interpretation, that could mean he was drafted.  At which point, he had no choice but to join. 

History entails good and bad events, and the bad or negative events are just as important as the good ones. The important thing is that we learn from the bad events and improve on them.

I vote to keep the Sydney Lanier name as is.  

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Thank you for this opportunity to submit a written statement in support of changing the name of Lanier Middle School. As you prepare to vote next week, you have heard many voices denouncing the current name, but may have received statements in support of keeping the name. I submit this statement in direct opposition to the latter.

 

It is unfathomable that, in 2020, this process is required to consider changing the name. One would think, as educated human beings with full understanding of the enslavement and crimes against humanity Confederate soldier Sidney Lanier fought to preserve, the decision to remove his name would be obvious, unanimous and irrefutable. That anyone would favor students attending an educational institution named after an historic figure who represents the most vile, reprehensible era in American history for Black students, and most shameful for white students, is inconceivable.

 

As a community engagement professional, my primary responsibility is to provide community service opportunities for racially and culturally diverse students, many of whom are Black. I can no longer support a school named after someone that willingly killed others in defense of killing the freedom, virtue, dignity, humanity and lives of their ancestors (and mine). 

 

As your decision carries significant ramifications, I implore you to consider the dozens of young students who testified to change the name, every argument made against keeping the name, and most of all, to search your own hearts and how this decision will impact your name. 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

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I am a Fairfax county resident for over 25 years and a grandparent of two students currently enrolled in Fairfax City schools.  I am writing this letter on behalf of my two grandchildren to give them a voice concerning the name of the school that they attend or will attend.  My grandson is a [redacted] at Sidney Lanier Middle and my granddaughter is a student at Eagle View Elementary. 

As all grandparents, I too want my grandchildren to receive the best education possible.  Part of getting the best education is having a school system that values all students and will do everything possible with the resources given to ensure all students are in a safe learning environment.  The school system should accept the responsibility that it will create an environment for students to thrive in education and to become good citizens.  The school system should also understand that students will not only learn what is taught in the classroom but they will also learn by the actions/policies of the school system and administration.  The school system also have the responsibility to teach all students accurate material that should not be a contradiction with our beliefs in respect to our community and country.  In the classroom, students are taught the importance of civics, the importance and meaning of the US constitution and the importance of honoring our US flag.  They should be taught to treat each other with respect and fairness regardless of race or color.  However, there is a different lesson being taught by the school system by giving honor (via keeping a name of a middle school) to a person that did not honor our US constitution nor honor our US flag. The name of the school should not be of someone who actually fought against the US and would not approve of our constitution or flag if he were alive today.  Sidney Lanier, a confederate soldier, is a contradiction to the lessons taught in the classroom and should not be a role model for our young students. 

I give my strong support to changing the name of the Sidney Lanier Middle School and hope the board will take to appropriate actions to make this positive change for students and the community.

 

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We appreciate the leadership that you have taken to begin the public consultation on the renaming of Sidney Lanier Middle School. As you know the school was named after the Georgian Confederate Poet by the Fairfax County School Board during a period of massive resistance in the aftermath of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court Decision in May 1954. At that time, Fairfax County was establishing 8 intermediate schools to be named after poets. The intermediate school built in what is now Fairfax City was named after Lanier in May 1959. The school was transferred to the City of Fairfax when it was incorporated in 1961. Since that time, FCPS has enjoyed a great working relationship with the City of Fairfax School Board. We write this letter, in support of the name change of Lanier Middle School. The Fairfax County School Board has taken steps to rename County schools that are named after Confederate soldiers because they do not align with the values of the School System or One Fairfax. With approximately 50 percent of the students attending Lanier Middle School residing in Fairfax County, we urge you to adopt a similar approach in the City of Fairfax. We believe this action complements the efforts that your Board took in supporting the change of the Fairfax High School mascot’s name and renaming Lion’s Way.

 

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This message is in support of the name change of Lanier Middle School. The Fairfax County School Board has been ardent in addressing the renaming of schools named after Confederate soldiers because they do not align with the values of our community. I urge the Fairfax City School Board to change the name of Lanier to better reflect the values of Fairfax City, Fairfax County, and Fairfax City and Fairfax County Public Schools.

 

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I am writing to express my opinion on the name change for Sidney Lanier Middle School. I did a bit of research on Lanier, including reading his compiled Confederate Service record. He served as a private and was not in a leadership role in the confederacy. Once he was captured and then exchanged, he did not go back to his unit. He wasn't a highly noted poet either, and I couldn't find a really well known poet from Virginia. Therefore I would support changing the name of the school to Fairfax Middle School as using a place name should suffice for the distant future. I had considered suggesting Jermantown, but after doing a little research I discovered that Hezekiah Jerman, whose last name was responsible for the Jermantown neighborhood, was a slave owner, albeit not a major one. In the 1850 slave census he owned a 14 year old female, his only enslaved person. I did not find that he hadany slaves by 1860, but that should be researched a bit more. Court records could prove whether he emancipated her or sold her.

 

My second, more reluctant choice, would be to name the school for the beloved former principal and Fairfax City School Superintendent, Robert C. Russell.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/former-fairfax-city-schools-superintendent-dies-at-

83/2013/06/11/985b9eb2-d29a-11e2-a73e-826d299ff459_story.html

He served as principal of Lanier for ten years, was also a music teacher there, and was beloved by all who knew him. I know the Lanier Auditorium is named for Bob, but having his name on the school would be wonderful.

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As an FCPS Student at West Potomac High School, I feel it is my duty to advocate against racism in this county. I have been following the Lanier Middle School name change process. After various disputes over John R. Lewis High School’s and Justice High School's name change, I am hoping Lanier’s process does not go through as many road bumps.

I strongly feel that all members of the School Board should be in support of the name change in order for FCPS to take strides in becoming antiracist. The School Board should select a meaningful, historically significant and representative antiracist name. This representation not only allows impressionable young adults a figure to look up to, but allows students to have pride in their school and community. Thank you for your continuous hard work and dedication.

 

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I live here in Fairfax City just down the street from Sidney Lanier. For the past 35 years I have worked with local Museums, Schools and the Manassas National Battlefield Park. My objective has been to discuss and help understand “Who was the Common Soldier" (Both North and South). It appears that Sidney C. Lanier would fall into this category. Sidney was a private in the Confederate Army. If he were alive and you could ask him why he fought, I bet he would say "to defend my home". I am sure if you lived in the 19th century and your town/state were being invaded; you too would have defended your home/State. As you know slavery was not abolished until December 1865. The Emancipation Proclamation issued January 1863 only abolished slavery in States in rebellion. Had the South accepted the proclamation, then slavery would have returned to America and only God knows how long it would have lasted.

For many of us changing names, tearing down monuments or removing monuments is destruction of history, not my history, or our history, but just simply history. When the names and monuments are gone where do rallying points and teaching moments appear? A lesson can be seen in more recent German History. Many exterminations camps and forced labor camps are still there in reduced form precisely because they serve as reminders of something truly evil. They are visited every year by student classes who are told in precise language, exactly what happen there. This is what I have done at Manassas National Battlefield, Schools, and Museums What if, instead of changing names or tearing down or removing monuments to dead confederates, you started a dialogue on Sidney, telling about his Confederate service, working on a blockade runner for which he was imprisoned (and caught tuberculosis), taught, worked at a Hotel where he gave musical performances, was a Church Organist, and worked as a lawyer. As a poet he sometimes, though not exclusively, used dialects. Many of his poems are written in heightened, but often archaic, American English. He became a flautist and sold poems to publication. He eventually became a professor of literature at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore and is known for his adaptation of musical meter to poetry. Many Schools, other structures and two Lakes are named for him, and he became hailed in the South as the "poet of the Confederacy". A 1972 US postage stamp honored him as an "American Poet". I believe the reason he was chosen as a name for the school was his contribution to poetry not his service in the Confederate Army.

 

is time to stop renaming places, tearing down monuments, and removing monuments and the time to start building things again and teaching about our national failures just so we don't repeat them. I am sure you noted that Virginia Military Institute won't remove Confederate Statues or rename buildings. If there is no rallying point to call attention to some part of our past that was wrong or bad, how can focus be brought to bear on the problem to fix the problem?

 

I would also like to know the cost of changing the name. We know that renaming JEB Suart High School the cost was over one Million Dollars. If you must rename the school, I would suggest the name be George Lamb. He was a freed black man that is buried in Jerman Cemetery just down the road from Sidney Lanier. George was a Black Smith and worked for local farmers and was known for his loyalty.

I also intend to contact the governor and tell him he is wrong in his approach in removing monuments and changing names.

 

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I fully support changing the name of Lanier Middle School. This school’s name is very much linked to Confederate figures and it is time to finally change it! With our country working on resolving racial discrimination, it would be horrible for schools to commemorate Confederate figures through naming our schools after them. The Confederacy represents hate and oppression, and it is awful that we have schools that represent that through their name. It is imperative that we change Lanier Middle School’s name!

 

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Sidney Lanier Intermediate School should remain Sidney Lanier Intermediate School.

 

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As an FCPS Student at West Potomac High School, I feel it is my duty to advocate against racism in this county. I have been following the Lanier Middle School name change process. After various disputes over John R. Lewis High School’s and Justice High School's name change, I am hoping Lanier’s process does not go through as many road bumps.

I strongly feel that all members of the School Board should be in support of the name change in order for FCPS to take strides in becoming antiracist. The School Board should select a meaningful, historically significant and representative antiracist name. This representation not only allows impressionable young adults a figure to look up to, but allows students to have pride in their school and community. Thank you for your continuous hard work and dedication.

 

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I am disappointed in the lack of leadership and financial stewardship of the COF school board and the Fairfax County School Board. With the economic difficulties all of us are facing, renaming schools should be the last thing on anyone’s mind. It is a complete waste of our taxpayer money when those funds should be spent on the children and teachers in those classrooms.

All history is important and needs to be taught in our schools. Sidney Lanier was a poet and author and should be remembered as such. No one has a perfect past, including all of you on the School Board. If we keep erasing history by renaming everything and tearing things down, we are doomed to repeat it. Do we really want that for our children?

 

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To respect Sidney Lanier is to disrespect the Union, the millions of slaves he fought to traffick, and above all, is to disrespect the black and brown students of Fairfax.

To keep in place this institution is patently unpatriotic, and to fly the American flag atop an institution named for the destruction and separation of this country is a crime against the flag.

To praise Sidney Lanier is to praise the confederate flag, as his poems and artistic works are in no way independent or detached from his military service.

Sidney Lanier is hailed as "The poet of the confederacy," thus to memorialize his work is to memorialize the confederacy and the atrocities committed under that name.

Please hear the students and youth of Fairfax when we say that we do not stand by the lost cause, but by the precious lost lives by the hands of Lee, Stuart, Lanier, and the confederacy.

 

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I would also like to express my support of changing the name of Lanier Middle School. As a teacher at Lanier I know firsthand how diverse the student population is. With the faces of all students in my mind, I believe it would be most fitting to give the honor the only middle school in Fairfax City to someone who embodies dignity and pride we have emanating from the school’s halls. I’d like to suggest that Lanier be named after a writer who walked in strength and dignity and spoke to the masses – Dr. Maya Angelou. Dr. Angelou once said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This quote is one that embodies the mindset of an educator and speaks to how Dr. Angelou lived her life. She lived a life dedicated to empowering people to be better versions of themselves and that is what the educators at 3801Jermantown Road do every day. I am excited that the name of my former school will have the opportunity to resemble and resonate the love shown to every student that has attended. Thank you and the board for being courageous enough to remove the last example of systemic racism on a school building within the city boundaries. Again, I support this timely change and thank you

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I live in the City of Fairfax. I hope you will take this opportunity to change the name of Sidney Lanier Middle School immediately. I am a member of the leadership team of Showing Up for Racial Justice Northern Virginia. We were involved in the movement to change the name of the former J.E.B. Stuart High School (now Justice High School) and support all efforts to remove the names of confederate leaders from our schools, roads, and public areas.

As you likely know, many schools named after confederate soldiers were named during the civil rights era, as a way to discourage or protest against school desegregation. That is the case with Sidney Lanier Middle School, developed in the late 1950s and opened in 1960, named after Sidney Lanier, a private in the Confederate Army who was considered the "poet of the Confederacy". Now that we are seeing a second wave of the civil rights movement in the form of Black Lives Matter, it should be evident how wrong-headed that sentiment is. It is meant as a way to intimidate people of color.

 

There should be no place for racism in the City of Fairfax, and certainly not in the public school system. There are so many other ways to name schools, including after prominent Fairfax residents or national figures who have fought against racism, or after geographic areas or features. If you wish to keep the school named after a prominent poet, it could be named after Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez, Gil Scott-Heron, or any of thousands of black

poets.

 

In addition, I urge you to make this decision swiftly, and to accept feedback with care. Often, public feedback forums are used as an opportunity for white supremacists to air their views. While I understand the importance of feedback, you can receive feedback without creating a platform for hate and harm. The supposed community input process often only subjects Black and brown families to organized hate in their communities. White people show up and spew the same racist diatribes repeatedly to justify preserving the legacy of the Confederacy and enslavement. This increases harm and trauma for students and parents of color, and acts as a recruiting tool for white supremacists, especially when these racist arguments are treated as worthy of equal consideration by the Board.

 

We have so much more work to do to address systemic racism in our schools: harmful curriculum, disparities in hiring and leading, and learning. Prince William County school board recently announced a commitment to move quickly on renaming schools. We could also move with such decisiveness, and move on to other crucial work. You already know

what the right thing to do is. Please do it. Thank you for your consideration and swift action.

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I write to you as a former teacher at Providence ES and current FCPS teacher. In my time at Providence, I served a beautifully diverse and talented student body that was often not reflected in the power structures of your city. I urge you to support changing the name of Lanier Middle School to one that better reflects the diverse community and student body the school and your board serve. This is not an empty gesture as it has great power in the psyche of our shared community and youth. Holding on to white supremacist icons cannot be tolerated, as it never should have been.

 

I just used several websites to learn about Lanier, never bothering before now. The name has no place or identification in our daily culture, other than to uplift the name of a white supremacist. Changing a school's name does not erase history but has the potential to more accurately reflect what we want to inspire in our youth today. If Lanier had not been a traitor and supporter of enslavers, despite some of his celebrated traits and attributes, we would not be pushing for this change. That is not the case. Please consider the power of a name and how a school’s name can more fully reflect the goals of Fairfax City Schools and authentically serve our children, now and in the future. Thank you,

 

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I hope you are well. As a Fairfax resident, I demand we change the name of Lanier Middle School. There are many valuable and wonderful American poets and literary figures to chose from as an alternate option for the school name. Please change the name of the school.

 

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I would like to respectfully ask that you change the name of Lanier Middle School. I am not only a parent of two children in the school system, but I live in the Fairchester Woods neighborhood where the school is located. I have never been comfortable with the school being named for a Confederate poet with no ties to this area. It is a needless elevation of a minor historical figure who was on the wrong side of history. I would suggest giving the school a geographical name: Jermantown MS, Fairchester MS, or City MS. If there’s a desire to keep in the FCPS theme of “middle schools named after poets/writers”, I would suggest looking into Anne Spencer.

While she was not from this area, she is from Virginia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Spencer

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I am writing you to Express my support of the renaming of Lanier Middle School. Although many students and families may not be aware, anyone curious enough to do a modicum of research will find that the school's name honors a rebel movement that fought to uphold slavery and white supremacy. That is an egregious insult to those who still suffer the consequences of both today, and is even a continuation of white supremacist propaganda. Let us choose, instead, the

name of a Virginian who was or is enthusiastically anti-racist.

 

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I am a resident of Fairfax County, and many members of Fairfax County also attend Lanier Middle School. The name of the school must be changed. It is disgraceful and violent to honor Confederate soldiers, and the new name of the middle school must reflect someone who did not support the Confederacy. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

 

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It is imperative that Lanier middle School's name changes ASAP. This is not only offensive but it stands for Injustice that out County should not tolerate. We are school system that serves many different populations including race religion and cultures. We need to show our communities, our parents, and our students that they matter. We will continue to fight for them to make their educational setting one that accepts everybody, that promotes love of differences, and that fights when there is racism existing in our halls.

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I’m unable to speak at the public hearing, but as the parent of an FCPS student, I want to voice my strong support of changing the name of Lanier Middle School. Confederate soldiers were not heroes and should not be honored with statues or have roadways or schools named after them. I can only imagine how painful it would be to be a Black student and to walk into a building every day that’s named after someone who fought to keep my ancestors enslaved and believed them to be less than fully human. And what kind of example does it set for white students that their school name reflects that perspective? How does that encourage equity and fairness in education? How does that support the fabric of Fairfax’s community and families? It doesn’t. Do the right thing and change the name.

 

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As a resident of Fairfax and a supporter of the Fairfax NAACP, I demand that the Fairfax City School Board remove the name of confederate soldier Sidney Lanier from the Middle School. This would be a welcome continuation of the path the school board began when it removed the confederate mascot from Fairfax High School on June 18.

 

We have faith the School Board will show its commitment to supporting the diverse array of students who attend Fairfax City Schools by renaming this school after someone who represents the values the community can be proud. The first step is to remove the false "state's rights" and "lost cause" narrative, which is perpetuated by honoring traitors and enemies of America. This middle school was opened in the 1960s, at the height of the Civil Rights movement in order to intimidate people like John Lewis, Ella Baker, and Fannie Lou Hamer. Like them, we will not be intimidated. It's well past time for the Fairfax City School Board to remove this unsightly scar from our sight and replace it with an icon we can all love and respect.

 

Note: This email was sent 30 times from 30 separate emails.

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As an FCPS Student at West Potomac, I feel it is my duty to advocate against racism in this county. I have been following the Lanier Middle School name change process. After various disputes over John R. Lewis High School’s and Justice High School's name change, I am hoping Lanier’s process does not go through as many road bumps. I strongly feel that all members of the School Board should be in support of the name change in order for FCPS to take strides in becoming antiracist. The School Board should select a meaningful, historically significant and representative antiracist name. This representation not only allows impressionable young adults a figure to look up to, but allows students to have pride in their school and community. Thank you for your continuous hard work and dedication.

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I strongly endorse the motion to remove Sidney Lanier from the middle school named in his honor. Mr. Lanier was a confederate soldier who fought to continue the enslavement of Blacks in our country. His actions do not match with the values of our communities or school division. We respectfully ask that you act to redact his name from the building and rename the school to one that better represents the diversity of the school and community.

 

Fairfax City is a diverse community. Forty five percent of Its residents are minorities. It is disrespectful to those families to send their students to a school named after a man who would not have granted them the basic dignity of freedom. We know diversity is a strength in our schools and country, and we implore you to consider all who enter this school.

Please select a name that appropriately reflects the values, hopes and vision of all stakeholders.

 

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I wonder if anyone advocating for this change has read Lanier's poetry or his novel? I've skimmed a bit of both, his writings don't seem racist, lots of prose about rivers and flowers. This is a slippery slope. I encourage the school board to refrain from a politically motivated rush to judgement.

 

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Stop trying to re-wright history! I have had four children attend Lanier school and it is part of their legacy. Changing the name is changing history. Teach history and do not try to change or hide history. Spend time to make the schools safe and open them or children will fall behind in their education.

 

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As an FCPS Student at Marshall High School, I feel it is my duty to advocate against racism in this county. I have been following the Lanier Middle School name change process. After various disputes over John R. Lewis High School's and Justice High School's name change, I am hoping Lanier's process does not go through as many road bumps. I strongly feel that all members of the School Board should be in support of the name change in order for FCPS to take strides in becoming antiracist. The School Board should select a meaningful, historically significant, and representative antiracist name. This representation not only allows impressionable young adults a figure to look up to, but allows students to have pride in their school and community. Thank you for your continuous hard work and dedication.

 

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I read with great interest and concern about changing the name of Sidney Lanier Middle School. I believe that this is a waste of time and taxpayer money. Sidney Lanier was serving the army of the great Commonwealth of Virginia and was not a politician, slave owner, or a general. He was captured during the Civil War and incarcerated in a military prison until after the war as an enlisted man. After the war, he was a teacher, a poet, and a lawyer. This is the reason the school is named after him. There is no reason for his name to be removed from the school. He was an American. Why are we erasing history? This is a reminder of where we came from and how far we have grown as a nation. Let's not rewrite U.S. History in the classroom.

 

Since Governor Northam is doing his penance for being captured in a "back-faced" picture in his yearbook, maybe Governor Northam should resign to right a wrong. I grew up in the north (Pennsylvania) and am appalled at the current trend of removing statues, the protests, vandalizing communities, changing street names, and looting of homes and stores across our nation. As in all walks of society, there are good and bad people. Let's not categorize and repeat past sins of making assumptions of people based on race, color, occupation, or which side you fought on during the Civil War. All of my grandparents immigrated to the U.S. and my grandfather fought in WWI in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps. My father and uncles served in WWII. I am a retired U.S. Naval Officer and will stand at attention and not take a knee during the playing of our national anthem and disrespect this great nation.

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As an FCPS Student at Marshall High School, I feel it is my duty to advocate against racism in this country. I have been following the Lanier Middle School name change process. After various disputes over John R. Lewis High School's and Justice High School's name change, I am hoping Lanier's process does not go through as many road bumps. I strongly feel that all members of the School Board should be in support of the name change in order for FCPS to take strides in becoming antiracist. The School Board should select a meaningful. historically significant and representative antiracist name. This representation not only allows impressionable young adults a figure to look up to, but allows students to have pride in their school and community. Thank you for your continuous hard work and dedication.

 

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As an FCPS Student at John R. Lewis High School, I feel it is my duty to advocate against racism in this county. I have been following the Lanier Middle School name change process. After various disputes over John R. Lewis High School’s and Justice High School's name change, I am hoping Lanier’s process does not go through as many road bumps. I strongly feel that all members of the School Board should be in support of the name change in order for FCPS to take strides in becoming antiracist. The School Board should select a meaningful, historically significant and representative antiracist name. This representation not only allows impressionable young adults a figure to look up to, but allows students to have pride in their school and community. Thank you for your continuous hard work and dedication.

 

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As an FCPS alumna from West Potomac high school, I feel it is my duty to advocate against racism in this county. I have been following the Lanier Middle School name change process. After disputes over John R. Lewis High School’s and Justice High School's name change, I am hoping that all in charge can see that Sidney Lanier's involvement with the confederacy means that he's not a good representative for the name of a school in the United States. The name must be changed swiftly and unanimously. I strongly feel that all members of the School Board should be in support of the name change in order for FCPS to take strides in becoming anti-racist. The School Board should select a meaningful, historically significant and representative anti-racist name. This representation not only allows impressionable young adults a figure to look up to, but allows students to have pride in their school and community. Thank you for your continuous hard work and dedication.

 

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As an FCPS Alumnus, I feel it is my duty to advocate against racism in this county. I have been following the Lanier Middle School name change process. After various disputes over John R. Lewis High School’s and Justice High School's name change, I am hoping Lanier’s process does not go through as many road bumps. I strongly feel that all members of the School Board should be in support of the name change in order for FCPS to take strides in becoming antiracist. The School Board should select a meaningful, historically significant and representative antiracist name. This representation not only allows impressionable young adults a figure to look up to, but allows students to have pride in their school and community. Thank you for your continuous hard work and dedication.

 

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As an FCPS Student alumnus of West Potomac High School, with parents who were longtime employees of the county, I feel it is my duty to advocate against racism in our schools. I have been following the Lanier Middle School name change process. After various disputes over John R. Lewis High School’s and Justice High School's name change, I am hoping Lanier’s process does not go through as many road bumps. I strongly feel that all members of the School Board should be in support of the name change in order for FCPS to take strides in becoming antiracist. The School Board should select a meaningful, historically significant and representative antiracist name. This representation not only allows impressionable young adults a figure to look up to, but allows students to have pride in their school and community. Thank you for your continuous hard work and dedication.

 

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I urge the school board to reject the renaming of Lanier Middle School in Fairfax. Erasing history is no way to educate our children. Just because Lanier fought on the side of the Confederacy, as a private (not a leader or decision maker), does not make him a criminal. There's no evidence he was a bad person. Sidney Clopton Lanier (February 3, 1842 – September 7, 1881) was an American musician, poet and author. He served in the Confederate States Army as a private, worked on a blockade-running ship for which he was imprisoned (resulting in his catching tuberculosis), taught, worked at a hotel where he gave musical performances, was a church organist, and worked as a lawyer. As a poet he sometimes, though not exclusively, used dialects. Many of his poems are written in heightened, but often archaic, American English. He became a flautist and sold poems to publications. He eventually became a professor of literature at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, and is known for his adaptation of musical meter to poetry. Many schools, other structures and two lakes are named for him, and he became hailed in the South as the "poet of the Confederacy". A 1972 US postage stamp honored him as an "American poet". His relatives immigrated to England in the 16th century, fleeing religious persecution.