J.E.B. Stuart was a Confederate general and a slave owner, and Julianne Moore is just one of thousands of people who think his name should be removed from a Virginia high school. JulianneMoore08TIFF

Moore joined Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen to launch a Change.org petition calling on the local school board change the name of  J.E.B. High School. Both stars once attended the Fairfax County, Virginia, school.

The petition is proposing to rename the school Thurgood Marshall High School. Marshall was the lawyer and eventual Supreme Court justice who argued against segregation in public schools in the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education.

The school was named for Stuart when it was founded in 1959 to protest that ruling.

Alumni who signed the petition say they’ve felt the need to apologize for their alma mater’s name ever since:

When we were at J.E.B. Stuart in the late ’70’s, the school symbol was Stuart riding a horse and waving the Confederate flag. The Confederate flag was at the center of our basketball court and on our athletic letter jackets and wasn’t removed until 2001 — but the symbol of Stuart on a horse waving a flag (now solid blue) remains. No one should have to apologize for the name of the public high school you attended and the history of racism it represents, as we and so many alumni of Stuart have felt the need to do our whole lives.

The petition has received almost 30,000 signatures since its launch four weeks ago, and has since been promoted by the likes of Russell Simmons and the local NAACP chapter.

“We recognize that there are legitimate concerns of students, parents and communities in these schools and whether those names best reflect their community,” the statement read. “We also recognize that there are historic, legacy, and financial concerns in making changes in the names of schools. Current and former students have initiated this dialogue and we will work with our communities to hear all sides of this discussion and work collaboratively to address this issue.”

Moore was not immediately available for further comment.

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