Some generals in the Confederate States Army have significant space in objective military histories.
Among the most extensively documented is Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.
This military history is on display at National Park battlefields, the Virginia Museum of the Civil War in New Market, highway markers, books in our public libraries, and elsewhere.
The incontrovertible truth is that the proximate cause of secession and the ultimate strategic goal of the Confederacy in severing 11 states from the Union, was so that the slavery of African Americans could remain legal within their borders.
Prominence in military history in a war against our nation, to perpetuate slavery, is in no way deserving of a place of public honor, as in the naming of a school, meant to inspire our students in their academic, athletic, and artistic pursuits and preparation to achieve economic success and become informed and engaged citizens.
In addition to having Richmond operate as the capital of the Confederacy, Virginia was the leader among states in “Massive Resistance” to the Supreme Court’s “Brown v. Board of Education” decision of 1954, which declared that racially segregated public schools were unconstitutional.
In naming a new high school for Stonewall Jackson in 1959, Shenandoah County was a piece of this shameful policy. Our county’s schools were not fully integrated until 1964.
Prince William County is the location of the battlefield upon which Jackson was first called “Stonewall,” and is where the school board in June 2020 (during the height of the pandemic) renamed two schools that had been burdened with Jackson’s name.
The high school was renamed Unity Reed High School, to honor the “...legacy of Arthur Walter Reed Jr., long-time security assistant at Stonewall Jackson High School, ... who was beloved by students and staff.”
Stonewall Jackson Middle School was renamed Unity Braxton Middle School “[T]o honor the legacies of Celestine Braxton and Carroll Braxton. Celestine was a Prince William County Public Schools educator for 33 years [including] while Virginia schools were still racially segregated…
“Carroll Braxton was a Master Gunnery Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. and a Congressional Gold Medal Recipient and one of 20,000 African-American Marines from 1942 to 1949. He trained at a segregated facility for basic training and served honorably in World War II and the Korean War, even serving as a combat instructor before retiring in 1980.”
Also joining the nationwide, ongoing, racial reckoning and reconciliation is the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Jackson’s academic home from 1851 until 1861. On Dec. 7, 2020, VMI relocated a huge statue of General Jackson from its campus to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War.
The decision to retire Confederate generals’ names from our public schools, and to replace them with Mountain View High, and Honey Run Elementary, was made in 2020-2021, in concert with scores of school districts throughout Virginia and hundreds across the nation, as actions to further racial reconciliation and equity. It was an educationally, civically, and morally proper decision.
It should be affirmed.