Kanawha school board approves name change of Stonewall Jackson Middle School

By Jake Flatley, Charleston Gazette-Mail

July 7, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In an unanimous decision, members of the Kanawha County Board of Education voted to change the name of Stonewall Jackson Middle School on Monday.

The vote was 5-0 in front of a socially distanced but large crowd gathered both in the halls and outside of the board office on Elizabeth Street in Charleston.

Following 15 speakers voicing opinions on the move, each board member was given the chance to speak before the vote. Member Ryan White said he voted for the community he represents.

“I have heard from a lot of people in the community. Many people who have wanted to change the name and there have been some people who have not wanted to change the name,” he said.

“I can tell you that the vast majority of people that I have heard from about this issue have said they wanted the name change.”

Jackson, who was born in Clarksburg in 1824 when it was still part of Virginia, served as a Confederate general during the Civil War and owned slaves during his lifetime.  He joined the Confederacy after Virginia’s secession from the United States in 1861.

Jackson died on May 10, 1863, just more than a month before West Virginia officially became a state after seceding from Virginia.

According to the state Department of Education, the West Side school is 42% African American which is the highest proportion among public middle schools in West Virginia  That is compared to 4% of the state’s student population across all grade levels.