CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — In the last few weeks, following the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the calls for the removal of memorials to confederate leaders and others who are perceived as enablers of slavery have gotten louder, including in Charleston and the name of a West Side middle school.
The discussion of renaming Stonewall Jackson Middle School began nearly one month ago, with an online name-change petition that received a lot of support, but no such decision has been made.
The school on Charleston’s west side was built in 1948.
Educator, Dr. Gregg Suzanne Ferguson said, “it’s ironic, you know, Stonewall Jackson would probably be rolling over in his grave to know that his statue adorns the capitol of a state he died not to have existed and a school.”
Afte 72 years, many Charlestonians want the name removed and replaced with someone of great admiration.
“The school system, we are bound to protect our students and this is a shame that they have to go into a building every day that is a beacon for the inglorious resurrection of white supremacy that you see happening,” Ferguson said.
On the other hand, those in favor of keeping the name say it’s not that easy.
Sons of Confederate Veterans local chapter Commander, Ernest Blevins said, “I would say its a dishonor to remove the name from it, but also a dishonor to whatever name you put back on it. I mean if they go with Catherine Johnson, she’s going to be looked at like she’s the one who replaced Stonewall Jackson, which could be an adverse as well.”
Supporter of keeping the name also believe there are bigger issues to be focusing on.
“I think this is more of an adult conversation that the kids are not really concerned with, as getting a good education. You also have the physical expense of changing the name of the school,” Blevins said.
Another rally is planner for tomorrow at 3 p.m. on the steps of the Kanawha County Board of Education building. The name change will be a discussion item on the Board’s agenda.
Later on at the Charleston City Council meeting, there will also be a discussion on the fate of a confederate monument removed from a Charleston park. The monument was quietly removed under the direction of Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin on Monday morning, June 29.