(Washington, DC) – This week, Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Lewis Ferebee announced a proposal to rename West Elementary School to John Lewis Elementary School, honoring the legacy of the longtime congressman and champion of civil and human rights. Congressman Lewis was a staunch supporter of DC statehood, cosponsoring legislation to make Washington, DC the 51st state every term he was in Congress.
“John Lewis embodied what it meant to be an American hero – dedicating his life, and even sacrificing his body, to the fight for justice, equal rights, and a better America,” said Mayor Bowser. “As we prepare to mark one year since we lost Congressman Lewis, we are proud to honor his legacy by dedicating this school and its beautiful new facility in his name. This name change is an opportunity to inspire our youngest learners, uplift our DC values, and build on the long legacy of a beloved civil rights icon.”
The school is located at 1338 Farragut Street, NW in Ward 4, and a newly constructed building will open at the site this fall. The renaming will require DC Council approval and could go into effect at the start of the upcoming 2021-2022 School Year should the Council introduce and approve legislation.
The Mayor’s proposal follows a public engagement process that produced nomination submissions and feedback from students, staff, and families on a public input survey administered in Spring 2021. Survey results indicated John Lewis Elementary School as the overall preferred name and the most popular among almost all respondent subgroups.
“DC Public Schools is committed to ensuring that the names of our schools reflect the mission and values of our community. We’re proud to celebrate and honor the legacy of the late Congressman John Lewis, a giant of the civil rights movement and an enduring statesman,” said Chancellor Ferebee. “His lifelong accomplishments will be an inspiration to students. I want to thank our school community for the collaboration and dialogue that led to this announcement.”
The John and Lilian Miles Lewis Foundation (JLMLF) are the keepers and promoters of the late Congressman’s legacy and carry on his and his wife’s passion for purposeful living and civic engagement. DCPS consulted them on this proposal.
“Congressman Lewis was a civil rights hero and icon. Time magazine once called him a ‘saint;’ and his colleagues in Congress called him the ‘conscious of the Congress.’ Foremost, however, he was a teacher, leading the way with his words and actions,” said Linda Earley Chastang, President and CEO of the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation. “He would be honored beyond measure to be recognized in this way and to have this opportunity to inspire excellence - good work and good trouble!”
For more information on the renaming process for West Elementary School, visit the Public Input survey results at https://publicinput.com/westnamechange.