J.E.B. Stuart High School. (Amanda Voisard/For The Washington Post)

Former congressman Tom Davis’s (R-Va.) July 16 Local Opinions essay, “A teachable moment on J.E.B. Stuart High School,” defended the honor of Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, the namesake of a high school in Fairfax County. Mr. Davis neglected to mention and defend the honor of those who named the school.

When the decision to build it was made in the second half of the 1950s, the leaders of Fairfax County were in full-throated support of “massive resistance,” Virginia’s effort to deny minority children equal opportunity through equal education. White supremacy and the “lost cause” were in favor then. The naming of this school and others built in the same era for Stuart and other leaders of the rebellion (Robert E. Lee High School; Mosby Woods Elementary School, named for Confederate commander John S. Mosby) were statements of racist intent, not of historical memory. 

Mr. Davis may be untroubled by the real history here, but many of us who lived through massive resistance remember it as an ugly, futile and failed campaign. Like the “lost cause,” it is something to be documented and studied but never celebrated.

Frank Blechman, Fairfax Station