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Fairfax County School Board Takes Up Mosby Woods Renaming Discussion This Week

Mosby’s Raiders led a guerrilla campaign against Union supply and communications lines throughout Northern Virginia during the Civil War. Today, Mosby Woods Elementary School honors the group’s commander, John S. Mosby, but that could change.

A public hearing on potentially renaming Mosby Woods Elementary School is scheduled for the Wednesday, Oct. 7, school board meeting. The change was proposed by Providence School Board representative Karl Frisch and at-large member Karen Keys-Gamarra.

Like countless other discussions about renaming or removing honors to the Confederacy or Confederate soldiers, there’s been vocal support and opposition to the change. Feedback emailed to the School Board fell along the now-familiar arguments that the outdated name does not represent diversity of the school district, or that Confederate leaders should be judged by contemporary rather than modern standards.

“As the parent of a 5th grader who has been at Mosby Woods since kindergarten, I strongly support changing the name,” one anonymous parent said in an email to the School Board. “We are long overdue to remove honorifics for those who fought to separate and destroy our nation.”

Potential name replacements included Mosaic Elementary School — in relation to the nearby Mosaic District — or renaming the school to honor recently deceased Chadwick Boseman, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or the less-recently deceased Alexander Hamilton.

Others made the case that Mosby was less of a cut-and-dry case, as Mosby himself wasn’t a dyed-in-the-wool secessionist the way Confederates like Jubal Early were.

“I understand and support the current movement to remove Confederate monuments, memorials, and public buildings named for Confederate leaders,” the emailer wrote. “However, I would note that the case of John Mosby is not as clear-cut as many of the others, and I would urge people to read up on this person before jumping to a conclusion. John Mosby was against slavery and secession. Although he personally opposed the Confederacy’s positions, he joined the war out of a sense of patriotism and loyalty to the state of Virginia.”

Despite Mosby’s recorded opposition to slavery, he did own a slave during the war. Mosby joined President Ulysses S. Grant’s administration in the years after the war and became a vocal opponent to the Lost Cause mythos.

If the change is approved, the Superintendent will return with a recommendation for a new name. Comments on the name change can be emailed to [email protected]

Image via FCPS

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