Two schools in Virginia that were named after Confederate generals and soldiers and changed their names following the 2020 killing of George Floyd, are to revert to their previous names.
The Shenandoah County School Board changed Stonewall Jackson High School to Mountain View High School and Ashby-Lee Elementary School to Honey Run Elementary School in Quicksburg, following a July 2020 board vote and final approval in January 2021.
But less than two years later, a petition has been launched to gauge the strength of sentiment over returning the schools to their original names.
In 2020, a vote was held to change the name of Stonewall Jackson High School to Mountain View, but it’s likely the old name could be brought back within a few months.
General Stonewall Jackson served as a Confederate general in the American Civil War and became one of the best-known Confederate commanders.
Vocal opposition came from community members and alumni with over 4,000 people signing the petition to change the names.
The topic was discussed at length by the six-member, all-white school board, at a meeting last week.
Some new council members felt the decision to change the name was rushed and did not take into account the views of the community.
Board Vice Chairman Dennis Barlow said those in favor of the name change were ‘scary’, ‘elitist’ and ‘dark side’ outsiders, he told NBC News. .
He claims the school board’s decision to change the name in the first place was “undemocratic and unfair”, noting that he believed General Stonewall Jackson to be a “valiant commander”.
“Most people who vote for elected officials then rely on them to do the right thing on their behalf,” said board member Cynthia Walsh, who doesn’t think the names should be changed.
“We have a representative democracy. We don’t have direct democracy,” she added.
In 2020, a vote was held to change the name of Ashby-Lee Elementary School to Honey Run Elementary School
Turner Ashby Jr. (October 23, 1828 – June 6, 1862) was an American military officer. He was a Confederate cavalry commander during the American Civil War, left. Robert E. Lee, right, was an American Confederate general best known as a commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.
“Times have changed, the makeup of our schools has changed, and I sincerely believe that revisiting the name change is not what’s best for children,” Walsh said.
“I suggested a compromise: add a third option” — I didn’t agree with the name change, but I don’t think we should change it again — “and that’s where we got it left that night, but we didn’t vote on it, Walsh said.
“In my opinion, if you do it countywide, you might as well expel the students because they don’t care,” said Kyle Gutshall, who was elected to the council this year and is a recent graduate of the secondary.
But other board members insisted throughout the night that the decision must first be what is right for the students.
‘Nope. 1 criterion: what is best for children. The children we will teach today and for the next 25 years,” said board member Andrew Keller.
Rather than make a unilateral decision, this time the council has now decided to poll voters on whether the names should be changed. The next board meeting is scheduled for June 9.
Shenandoah County Public Schools declined to comment on the matter.
“It is the responsibility of the Shenandoah County School Board to determine the names of schools, school facilities and areas of school facilities or division lands. We have no comment or statement as a division at this time,’ the district said in a statement.
After the death of George Floyd, statues, monuments, schools and buildings across the country that had been named after Confederate leaders were suddenly at the center of racial justice. Since then, several statues and monuments have been dismantled and moved or stored.
According to US News & World Report, there are more than 6,000 students in a school district run school, of which more than 75% are white and about 3% black.
What’s in a name? Virginia schools that have evolved over time
The Shenandoah County School Board voted unanimously on new names for two of its schools on January 14, 2021.
In July 2020, the school board voted to remove the names of Stonewall Jackson and Ashby-Lee from two of its schools’ names in Quicksburg.
Committees were formed with students, community members and staff as the school board narrowed down possible new names.
The school board voted 6-0 to have Stonewall Jackson High School replaced with Mountain View High School and Ashby-Lee Elementary School renamed Honey Run Elementary.
At the time, it was reported that the community rallied and showed support for the name changes.
Two nonprofits have even donated money to schools to be used for the name change, with one anonymous donor sending $25,000 for Stonewall Jackson’s name change alone.
Robert Edward Lee was an American Confederate general best known as a commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He commanded the Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 until its surrender in 1865. Lee was the only President of the Confederate States of America.
General Stonewall Jackson served as a Confederate general in the American Civil War and became one of the most well-known Confederate commanders after General Robert E. Lee.
Turner Ashby was a Confederate soldier known as the Black Knight. Ashby wore black to mourn the death of his soldier brother, and he rode a white horse into battle.
General ‘Stonewall’ Jackson: ‘legendary’ general and supporter of slavery who died in the Civil War
An engraving of Confederate General Thomas Jonathan Jackson, better known as “Stonewall” Jackson, by artist Desmaisons circa 1850
Thomas Jonathan Jackson was born January 21, 1824, in Clarksburg, Virginia, now West Virginia, and became one of the most well-known Confederate generals of the Civil War, after General Robert E. Lee.
He was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and later a professor of artillery. He is said to have acquired his nickname “Stonewall” during the First Battle of Manassas on July 21, 1861, from Confederate General Bernard Bee.
He became known for his “legendary” military prowess at Harpers Ferry in 1861, his Shenandoah Valley campaign in 1862, and the flanking maneuver at the Battle of Chancellorsville, leading to numerous statues, schools, and even towns. bearing his name across the United States.
Jackson is also a controversial figure.
Like many Confederate leaders, he held anti-abolitionist views that it was “God’s will” that slavery existed, and is known to have owned at least six enslaved people.
Some Confederate historians argue that Jackson favored abolition because he attended a black Sunday school in 1855 and several slaves allegedly “asked” to be purchased by him to “save” them from the toughest owners in the world. Great South.
Other historians warn that these “myths” are regularly used to make former slave owners appear “benevolent” and to alienate the Confederate cause of slavery and white supremacy.
They also claim that Jackson’s attendance at black Sunday school could also be seen as part of a general attempt to control black religious life.
Jackson was accidentally killed, age 39, by friendly fire at Chancellorsville in May 1863, by a soldier or soldiers of the 18th North Carolina Infantry Regiment.
Who was Robert E. Lee?
Robert E. Lee, one of the most brilliant officers in the U.S. Army before the Civil War, refused President Lincoln’s offer of a Union command to join the Confederacy despite his personal opposition to secession pro-slavery states.
“If I owned the four million slaves of the South, I would sacrifice them all to the Union; but how can I draw my sword on Virginia, my native country? Lee reportedly responded when offered a senior American command on the eve of the war.
In resigning from his U.S. Army commission, Lee also expressed skepticism about the legitimacy of a “Union that can only be held together by swords and bayonets.”
For the Confederacy, he commanded the Army of Northern Virginia.
He scored victories in the Seven Days Battles and the Second Bull Run, but led the Rebels to decisive defeat at Gettysburg.
Lee held off General Ulysses S. Grant from a complete victory, then personally went to Appomattox as general-in-chief.
A slave owner himself, Lee nevertheless expressed conflicting reservations about slavery throughout his life. In an 1856 letter to his wife, he argued that slavery was a great evil, but primarily because of the negative impact he believed it had on white people.
After the war, he supported ending slavery and reunification, but said black people were “lack of intelligence”.