VIEW FROM THE PLAYGROUND: On Changing Stonewall Jackson Middle School’s Name


By KYLE VASS | WestVirginiaVille.com | July 5,2020


As adults decide the future of Stonewall Jackson Middle School’s name at a Kanawha County Board of Education meeting Monday, July 6, 2020, WestVirginiaville sought out some middle-schoolers to find out how they felt about the potential name change. On a sunny, Thursday afternoon, we went to the 2nd Avenue Community Center on the city’s West Side to speak to a handful of kids. Two of the three youth featured in this audio story attend Stonewall Jackson Middle School.


The View From the Playground on Changing Stonewall Jackson Middle School’s Name: A WestVirginiaVille.com video | Audio by Kyle Vass

TRANSCRIPT


Cam: I’m Camdyn Harris.

Patch: I’m Patch Kirby.

Alexandria: I’m Alexandria Plear.

Alexandria: I just felt like we honestly needed a change in the community. Because, Stonewall was a racist. And, he was not a good person. And, since the community is majority African American, that’s offensive to our ancestors in our culture. 

Alexandria: I mean, when we look at a person’s life, and you look at the details, you don’t really see all the details. You see what they did, and what they left in their memory. It’s what they left, not who they were. And. if they were a bad person, they were known for that—they’re gonna be known as a bad person forever. 


Alexandria Plear | WestVirginiaVille.com photo-illustration

Cam: I think of a racist who fought for slavery and wanted to keep our ancestors down, and didn’t want to let us free. 

Patch: I want to be out here because you can get the message across that, even though we’re kids like preteens and teenagers, we can make a difference. And this is a difference that we need to make.

Patch: As I said at the board meeting last night, I will never experience what some of the people in this room will have or have had, because of the color of my skin. I think that’s crazy. I think that’s just ridiculous and it makes me sick thinking about it. 

Patch: Think of this. If Stonewall Jackson and his side, the side he believed in, the Confederates, had won the war, could Cam and I be friends? Probably not. And if so, would we be equals? Or would I be—‘quote-unquote‘—superior because of my skin? These are the same. Humans. This is a hand. (Touches own hand.) This is a hand. (Touches Cam’s hand.) This is an arm. (Touches own arm.) This is an arm. (Touches Cam’s arm.) It’s the same thing. It’s not he’s black—and he’s white. It’s not like that. 

Alexandria: I have a very diverse friend group. I have friends who are Hispanic, bi-racial, and white and black. So, I feel like they need to care about it just as much as I do. Because, as people we all need to care about each other. 


Patch Krby | WestVirginiaVille.com photo-illustration

Alexandria: I feel like if Stonewall Jackson’s name is changed, it should be named after a person who has been through struggles, but has also prevailed through any kind of things they’ve gone through.

Cam: I would just let my community decide that. Because I really don’t have a name right now. I can’t think of one. But I will let the community vote about it. 

Alexandria: Maybe Maya Angelou. Because, Maya Angelou when she was raped by her own family friend at a young age, she was mute for more than two years. And, she still let her voice be heard with her words, even though she wasn’t speaking. 


Camdyn Harris being interviewed by Kyle Vass. | WestVirginiaVille.com photo-illustration

Cam: We’re not trying to change history. We’re just trying to move on and move forward. And, make a change in our lives. And, with this 44 percent black and 10 percent biracial in our school, we have a majority of color. And it’s not right to have a name after a Confederate soldier who fought against our ancestors and didn’t want us to stop working for them. And, we’re trying to make a future for ourselves, our classmates and future generations. 


RELATED

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.



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