CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The movement to change the name of Stonewall Jackson Middle School on Charleston’s West Side took another step today; with more than 100 people marching to make their point.
We first brought you news on this movement last week, when a petition was created to change the name.
At today’s event, Charleston residents held signs that read “how does it feel to be on the wrong side of history” and “West Side parents for change,” while they marched to the Kanawha County Board of Education building.
The group gathered on the school administration’s steps to hear from current and former students and teachers, who say the time has come to change the school’s name.
“I’m speaking for myself, my family, future generations, the West Side, and greater,” said 12-year-old Camdyn Harris, a current student at Stonewall Jackson. “How is it right for us – the minority population, which is the majority population at our school, 44% black and 7% biracial – to be told we must continue to go to a school named after a confederate general who owned slaves, fought to keep slavery alive, and our ancestors down?”
Harris brought up several different schools in the late ’50s and ’60s that had names changed.
“Even Henry Highland Garnet Technical School, formerly Garnet High School, was temporarily changed to John Adams Junior High School in the late ’60s, as it housed the white students of South Hills as their new school was being built,” Harris said.
“As we saw the life pouring out of George Floyd, I believe something clicked in the minds of people who said now is the time for change,” said Kitty Dooley, a lawyer who lives on the West Side and has pushed for the name change for years.
“When you see the names of confederate generals on school buildings, and you see them on street signs and see them honored in several different respects … everyone should be able to recognize that is not right,” she said.
After the speakers finished, the group said a prayer.
Praying for peace and unity … and action.
The board will vote on changing the name on July 6th. Until then, those advocating for the change say they will continue to make their voices heard.