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Washington-Lee High School, Arlington, Va.

Virginia high school may be renamed to honor interracial couple

A committee has recommended that the Arlington (Va.) board rename Washington-Lee High School as Washington-Loving High to honor Mildred and Richard Loving, who successfully challenged Virginia's ban on interracial marriage.

An Arlington, Va., high school could soon be renamed to honor Mildred and Richard Loving, the Virginia couple who successfully challenged the state’s ban on interracial marriages before the U.S. Supreme Court.

ARLnow.com reports an Arlington school district committee tasked with recommending a new name for Washington-Lee High School has chosen “Washington-Loving” as its new moniker. The committee’s second choice was “Washington-Liberty High School.”

The 23-member group began its work in September after the board voted to remove Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s name from the building because of his legacy of fighting to preserve slavery. Board members will have the final say on a new name for the school, which they want to have in place in time for the 2019-20 school year.

Earlier this year, three students sued the school board to block the name change; they argued that the board didn’t follow its own procedures in kicking off the renaming. A hearing in that case is set in Arlington Circuit Court later this month.

The board is set to debate the name change at its Dec. 20 meeting.

In an email to the school’s staff, Washington-Lee Principal Gregg Robertson expressed support for the “Washington-Loving” name.

“I don’t like to speculate, but ‘Loving’ holds a strong first place recommendation,” Robertson wrote. “I am so proud that our school community is moving forward in a positive way, while being insightful and thoughtful. I am also proud that we may be the first school in the United States to honor two individuals who looked past race and color and joined in a marriage based on their love and respect for each another. Though at the time, treated very unfairly by the state they loved — they will now hopefully be honored for possessing many of the same attributes we associate with our school, our goals and our vision for a global society.”

The Lovings married in Washington, D.C., in 1958, but were subsequently convicted under a Virginia law banning interracial couples from returning to the state.

The couple challenged that sentence in court, and in 1967, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in their favor in 1967.

The ruling struck down all laws banning interracial marriage across the nation.

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