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Advancing and Advocating for Social Justice & Equity

NAME Opposes VA's Restoration of Confederate Names

 The National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) stands solidly against a reversal begun this month in Virginia of restoring the names of U.S. Civil War confederate generals to two schools, which had correctly been changed four years ago during the height of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The nation and the world were right to be galvanized for change after the videotaped May 25, 2020, murder of 46-year-old African-American George Floyd by white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Angry and diverse protests erupted throughout the United States and the world. They resulted in progressive actions such as confederate statues and monuments coming down and schools and other public places being renamed.
However, in a 5-1 vote on May 10, the Shenandoah County School Board in the southeast part of the state reversed a July 2020, 5-1 decision and restored Mountain View High School to Stonewall Jackson High School and Honey Run Elementary School to Ashby Lee Elementary School. The change followed years of efforts by conservatives. The names are of three of the top confederate generals during the Civil War — Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, an infantry general; Turner Ashby, a cavalry commander; and Robert E. Lee, commander of the army of north Virginia and eventually the confederate army. About 5,600 students attend Shenandoah County Public Schools. About 75 percent are white, 18 percent are Latino and 3 percent are Black.
From Time, Rivka Maizlish, senior research analyst with the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, which has a database of more than 2,000 Confederate memorials nationwide, said she did not know of any other school that has restored a Confederate name that was removed.
The Civil War was fought over the continued enslavement of Black people in the South. It started in April 1861, with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and ended in April 1865, with Lee’s surrender. Close to 620,000 people — 360,222 in the Union and 258,000 on the confederate side — died in the fighting. NAME knows that without question, the North won the war, but the South has continued to exert its public relation’s dominance over the narrative with monuments, statues, schools and other buildings being named well into the 20th century for people who fought for the continuance of slavery.
 NAME supported the years of efforts that have gone into removing monuments and statues honoring the confederacy and changing the names of schools and buildings from those promoting the insurrectionists. George Floyd’s death, though a horrible tragedy, was a moment of awakening for a growing number of people in the United States to the horrors African Americans have endured during centuries of slavery followed by Jim Crow, separate-and-unequal laws, deficient schools, unsafe communities, poor health care, terrible job opportunities, being barred from voting, discrimination, prejudices, unchecked racism, and police brutality, jailings and killings. The Civil Rights Movement helped, but U.S. Supreme Court rulings and changes in state and federal laws continue to push the country backward.
NAME knows that the safety of all children in schools coast to coast should be the leading concerns for all school districts, parents and communities. Yet, for students of color and others who believe in social justice and equity, having the Shenandoah County School Board rename buildings for confederate generals jeopardizes that sense of safety, inclusiveness and belonging in that community. .2024 country must not tolerate any other backward actions like the Shenandoah County School Board.