In a unanimous agreement, the DC Council has voted to change the name of Joseph Rodman West Elementary School (also known as West Education Campus) in DC’s Petworth neighborhood. The school, which recently underwent a $77.5 million renovation, will soon be renamed after the late Georgia congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis.
DC Council just passed emergency legislation renaming West Elementary in #Ward4 to John Lewis Elementary. In doing so we invite generations of DC students to follow the example of the great #JohnLewis as a fearless crusader for civil rights, democracy, and justice. #GoodTrouble pic.twitter.com/YS3VoEhsfy
— CM Janeese Lewis George (@CMLewisGeorgeW4) November 16, 2021
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed the change in July, a year after Lewis’s death. The move is part of a citywide effort to rename public buildings and spaces whose current namesakes don’t align with “District values.”
In Bowser’s summer letter to DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, she called Lewis—who in 1965 led civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama—a “far superior role model for students.” West, a former senator and Union general, had once ordered that an Apache chief be tortured and murdered when he came to discuss terms of peace.
A commission assembled by Bowser has identified several other District schools that may be renamed. Among them are Francis Scott Key Elementary in the Palisades, Maury Elementary on Capitol Hill, and Woodrow Wilson High School in Tenleytown. The latter institution could be the first to be renamed after a woman.