Oscar Award-winning actress Julianne Moore and Oscar Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen, both alumni of J.E.B. Stuart High School, started a Change.org petition on Monday, Aug. 3, calling for the Fairfax County School Board to rename the Falls Church high school after Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice.
Marshall, who lived in the Lake Barcroft community in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County from 1968 until his death in 1993, was also the chief architect of the winning legal strategy in Brown v. Board of Education that led to the eventual end of legal segregation in America’s school system. “Not only was Marshall the first African-American Supreme Court justice and a civil rights leader, he was our neighbor and a member of our community,” the petition reads.
Moore, who went to Stuart from 1975 – 1977, and Cohen, who graduated from Stuart in 1979, have been friends since their early teen years. Their petition, which is separate from the original petition calling for the Fairfax Couny School board to change the names of Stuart, Robert E. Lee High School and W.T. Woodson High Schools started by a group called Alumni for Change, has over 26,000 supporters.
That’s compared to less than 2,000 supporters for both the original petition and another started in opposition to changing the names of the three schools, two which are named after Confederate generals and another named after a Fairfax County superintendent who opposed the immediate integration of public schools.
Originally proposed by People Demanding Action, the push not only to remove Stuart’s name from the school, but to then replace it with Marshall’s name, is now being supported by the Alumni for Change, which is made up of former Stuart students, and Students for Change, which was started by the five rising seniors at the school.
The rising seniors at Stuart initiated the drive to rid Fairfax County Public Schools of names associated with the Confederacy and segregation after learning about the origin of their school’s name in a history class. Until recently, both the Alumni for Change and Students for Change groups only supported the removal of Stuart’s name from the school and did not propose any names to replace his.