CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Board of Education will vote on whether to change the name of Stonewall Jackson Middle School at its Monday meeting.
David ‘Tater’ Knox, the Local School Improvement Council president at Stonewall Jackson MS and Capital HS appeared on a recent episode of MetroNews ‘Talkline’ and said the group is not asking for history to be forgotten.
“I just think it’s time to move forward and get a name change,” Knox said. “A confederate general that embraced slavery that was a slave owner. It’s tough and an injustice for these young people to go to school there at this time.”
In recent weeks, the board has heard multiple comments about the current name, and thousands of people have signed an online petition directed to Kanawha County Schools, the city of Charleston and Gov. Jim Justice on the matter.
The petition online asked for the name change to Katherine Johnson Middle School. Johnson was a black NASA mathematician whose work was instrumental in the early days of America’s space exploration efforts.
Jackson was born in Clarksburg and served as a Confederate general during the Civil War and owned slaves during his lifetime.
Stonewall Jackson Middle School opened in 1940 as a high school. According to the West Virginia Department of Education, 42% of the middle school’s student population is black compared to 4% of the state’s student population across all grade levels.
“When you see the general on the school and those kids are practicing soccer, football, running track, it’s 2020. I just believe it is time,” Knox said.
At the most recent board meeting, Knox presented a petition signed by 150 families of current and future students and letters of support from the middle school’s faculty senate and the council.
Knox said other names being considered are Booker T. Washington and Carter G. Woodson. He said it is not the first time that the group has pushed for a name change.
“It’s not like we are trying to get behind the momentum of what is going on in America. People in the community have been trying to look at changing the name for quite some time,” Knox said.