Friday 10 May 2024

Virginia School District Restores Names Of Confederate Generals To Public Schools

 A Virginia school district became the first in the United States to restore the school names associated with the Confederacy after they had been changed.

In 2020, the Shenandoah County School Board voted to change the names of Stonewall Jackson High School and Ashby-Lee Elementary School to Mountain View High School and Honey Run Elementary School. However, local residents felt that the board had voted to change the names without consulting the public. On May 9, the board held a public hearing to discuss changing the names back, and in a 5-1 vote, approved changing the names back to their original names.

The board members in favor of restoring the previous names contended that the 2020 school board had taken shortcuts in order to achieve their goal. “This was not an innocent mistake by some inexperienced school board,” District 2 School Board member Gloria Carlineo said, as reported by WHSV. “No, this was a carefully choreographed advance of a school board alluding to ignore the people they represented.”

“People in the Shenandoah Valley say that only the confederates are the ones who did nasty things, or did nasty things to black people,” school board chairman Dennis Barlow, school board chair stated.“You just stopped reading your history, and you’re not being realistic. War’s hell.”

“I’m fed up on people lying about how our schools were named,” one resident who supported changing the names back said. “I think it’s really rich that people lecture me about morality but excuse the actions of the 2020 school board.”

Kyle Gutshall, the only dissenting vote declared, “We’ve talked about the right way, the wrong way to do it. The right thing to do, the wrong thing to do. Things like this really come down to perspective and how you view things.”

“If you vote to restore the name ‘Stonewall Jackson’ in 2024, you will be resurrecting an act in 1959 that is forever rooted in mass resistance and Jim Crow segregation,” another resident argued.

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson is considered one of the greatest generals in the American Civil War. A devout Presbyterian, before the war he organized Sunday schools for blacks at his church. He was inadvertently shot by one of his own troops in 1863, had his left arm amputated as a result, and died eight days later.

“Jackson neither apologized for nor spoke in favor of the practice of slavery. He probably opposed the institution. Yet in his mind the Creator had sanctioned slavery, and man had no moral right to challenge its existence. The good Christian slaveholder was one who treated his servants fairly and humanely at all times,” historian James Robertson wrote in Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend.

Ashby-Lee is a reference to General Robert E. Lee, the leader of the Confederate army, and Turner Ashby, a Confederate cavalry officer who served under Jackson and was killed in 1862. Lee, who was initially offered the rank of Major General in the Union army that was to fight the Confederacy, at first opposed the secession of the Southern States. His loyalty to Virginia overrode that sentiment; he stated, “I shall never bear arms against the Union, but it may be necessary for me to carry a musket in the defense of my native state, Virginia, in which case I shall not prove recreant to my duty.”

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