Charleston organizers: Stonewall Jackson’s name needs to come down

Kanawha School Board voted unanimously to make the change
Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 5:18 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Activists in the Charleston community rallied Monday afternoon at the Kanawha County Board of Education.

They claim the name “Stonewall Jackson” needs to be removed from the middle school because of the connections it has with the Confederacy. Later in the day Monday, board members unanimously voted 5-0 to change the school’s name.

A new name hasn’t been chosen yet.

Leaders of the movement include parents, educators and local faith leaders. Dr. Gregg Suzzanne Ferguson has been working on the effort to change the middle school’s name for years. Some of her work on the issue dates back to 2007.

She says she became involved because it was the right thing to do for the students who attend Stonewall Jackson Middle.

David Knox, another organizer, started advocating for the change recently. He says he sent his children to the school so they could be surrounded by children of different cultures and backgrounds.

“It’s an injustice that they have to go to a school named after a slave owner,” Knox said.

Both members of the movement say they are not trying to erase the school’s history. Organizers say they know the name brings back positive memories for some, but moving on from what they call a dark past is more important.

“The Confederacy was about, you know, slaveholders, and if your southern pride is based on that, in part, then you have to look at other things to which you can be proud of,” Ferguson said. If your pride is based on white supremacy and holding these confederates as your heroes then you are really missing the mark”.

Earlier on Monday, Ferguson says she was counting on a unanimous vote, saying the board needs to acknowledge the history behind the desire to change the name.

“I want an unanimous decision from the board,” Ferguson said. “That they recognize that the Confederacy and those that fought for the Confederacy in the enslavement of African Americans should not be honored by having schools named after them.”

Before the board voted, organizers said they were hopeful about changes but were prepared to continue their fight if things didn’t.

“I don’t think you give up when something goes against you, the first time you get off off the mat and keep swinging,” Knox said.

We reached out Monday to the Kanawha County School Board and Stonewall Jackson officials and did not receive a response.

Copyright 2020 WSAZ. All rights reserved.

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