Bobby Lee Messer and I have been covering much of the back-and-forth on the renaming of Stonewall Jackson Middle School in West Virginia’s capital city. News headlines and TV anchors noted that on July 6, the Kanawha County Board of Education agreed unanimously—5-0—to rename the school in the heart of a Black community on Charleston’s West Side.
It might seem like this was an instant, local response to the turmoil and tsunami of protest across America in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020.
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YOUTUBE LINK TO TRAILER: https://youtu.be/dqP28sKAFY4
In fact, efforts had been undertaken years before to pull the name off the school of one of the Confederate Army’s most successful commanders. (In a deadly 1862 battle in Harper’s Ferry, Jackson secured the largest surrender of U.S. troops in the Civil War.)
Marshall University scholar and humanitarian, Dr. Gregg Suzanne Ferguson, had raised the matter to the school board as far back as 2015. She was told, in effect: “Are you crazy, woman?” That’s not an actual quote. But you get the sense of the incredulity with which she was met, when you talk to her about that unsuccessful effort.
But more of that once we get our mini-documentary done, titled “Bye-Bye, Stonewall.” The trailer features a flavor of her comments and those of Bishop Wayne Crozier of Abundant Life Ministries on Charleston’s West Side. The bishop joined the battle recently, but lent his ample ministerial gravitas and that of other West Side religious figures, black and white, to the successful effort.
The school board has yet to announce how they’ll choose a new name. But the documentary details efforts by Crozier and others to come up with a short list of notable figures in African-American history, from long ago and not-so-long ago.
Stay tuned. Subscribe to our free newsletter at WestVirginiaVille.substack.com, for notice of when we drop the documentary. (Is that what you do with documentaries—you “drop” them? Help me out here, seasoned documentarians … )
~ Douglas John Imbrogno, WestVirginiaVille editor and co-founder
VIDEO: When the Confederate Flag Cuts and Runs: We direct your amusement to this Tiffany Thouartdope Finkton insta-rap. She made it after capturing a special moment outside the Kaoard of Education meeting to consider renaming Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Charleston WV. The fellow who arrived with a Confederate flag was definitely not reading the room.
VIEW FROM THE PLAYGROUND: On Changing Stonewall Jackson Middle School’s Name: As adults decide the future of Stonewall Jackson Middle School’s name at meeting Monday, July 6, 2020, we visited a playground in Charleston WV to find out what a group of students thought about the idea.
POINTS of VIEW | ‘If You’re Silent About Your Pain’: A LETTER TO NEUTRAL COLLEAGUES: “I realize you may be actually confused about whether blacks are offended or feel pain from reminders of that dark period. Zora Neale Neale Hurston once said: “If you’re silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” So, I will clarify that we are offended. We are in pain.”
‘ALEXANDRIA SPEAKS’: Why Stonewall Jackson Middle School Needs a New Name: Why rename a school long named for a Confederate general? Watch a 13-year-old student in Charleston WV tell why in an impassioned plea to the adults considering whether to rename her Stonewall Jackson Middle School.