Julianne Moore is petitioning for her alma mater to change its name because it honors Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart, a name she finds “reprehensible.”
Stuart was an officer in the U.S. Army until he resigned and joined the Confederacy when Virginia seceded in 1861. He was promoted to major general during the Civil War, and the school was named after him when it opened in 1959 in Fairfax County.
The school’s student body is now 49 percent Hispanic, 24 percent white, 14 percent Asian and 11 percent black, the Washington Post reports.
The Oscar-winning actress attended Stuart High School in the 1970s, along with Hollywood producer Bruce Cohen. The two recently started a petition on Change.org that has collected 28,000 signatures because they think the name is offensive.
“We name our buildings, monuments, and parks after exalted and heroic individuals as a way to honor them, and inspire ourselves to do better and reach for more in our own lives,” Moore said in a statement. “It is reprehensible to me that in this day and age a school should carry and celebrate the name of a person who fought for the enslavement of other human beings.”
“I think the students of this school deserve better than that moniker.”
Cohen said that when he and Moore were students at Stuart a large Confederate flag was painted on the basketball court.
“It’s something that embarrassingly none of us stopped to think, ‘How did our school get this name?’” Cohen said. “It was more like this embarrassing shrug.”
The school removed the flag from its basketball court in 2001.
“This school is attended by a diverse group of students who should not have to attend a school that bears the name of a man who fought to keep African Americans enslaved,” the petition reads.
“The killings of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina by a white supremacist who proudly flew and wore the Confederate battle flag was a tragic reminder of how these symbols of hate continue to fuel racism and violence.”
Moore and Cohen are urging the Fairfax County School Board to change the name from J.E.B. Stuart High School to Thurgood Marshall.