Fairfax Co. officially renames Lee District in a move away from Confederate past

The Fairfax, Virginia, County Board of Supervisors officially renamed the Lee District as the Franconia District on Tuesday.

The board originally voted on the name change decision in June, and formally adopted the changes after a public hearing Tuesday.

The change will result in name changes for other facilities that have Lee in their names.

The renaming is the latest action to strip the name of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from locations around the county. In June 2020, the Fairfax County School Board renamed Lee High School after the late civil rights activist and U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

“Today’s action is an important statement about our values as a community,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay. “We can’t change our history, but we can decide what in our history is worth celebrating and what is worth learning from to always do better. Franconia is a recognizable, richly diverse area, an area I have been proud to have lived in my entire life. This new name ensures our county continues to be a welcoming community to all people.”

The board sought insight and opinions from the public, with a majority of residents at a town hall in March agreeing on the name change.

Many Black and African American residents voiced their concerns of how the long-stay of the name continues a legacy of a time where people were seen as property or a commodity. The name change offers these residents a peace of mind, knowing they can raise their children to be proud residents of “Franconia” and not a township that honors a slaveowner.

While there is no concrete proof that the magisterial district was named in honor of the Confederate general, many believe that the connection is clear. And in a newspaper from 1936, one writer described the township as being “named for a famous family of Virginia, the Lees,” according to Chris Barbuschak, a research librarian at the Virginia Room at the Fairfax County Public Library.

According to the county, other facilities that are being renamed include the following:

  • Lee District Rec Center will be known as the Franconia Rec Center.
  • Lee District Park is now called Franconia District Park.
  • Lee Residential Permit Parking District is now the Lewis Parking District.
  • Lee Community Parking District is now the Franconia Parking District.
Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is the Evening Digital Editor at WTOP. She is a graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

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