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Video: School Board in Deep-“Red” Shenandoah County, VA Listens to Speakers Explaining Why They Shouldn’t Do “U-Turn” and Rename Schools for Confederates; Then Do So Anyway

School Board "resurrect[s] an act of 1959 that is forever rooted in Massive Resistance and Jim Crow segregation."

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That’s right – last night, the Shenandoah County School Board voted 5-1 “to reinstate the names of Stonewall Jackson High and Ashby-Lee Elementary in Quicksburg…The vote marked the first such U-turn anywhere in the US” (“Following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd and a summer of racial justice unrest, Virginia and other states took down Confederate statues from public spaces.”). So yeah, deep-“red” Shenandoah County has decided to lurch backwards – towards the shameful days of “Massive Resistance” and “Jim Crow,” and towards honoring traitors who took up arms against the United States of America in order to defend a horrific system of slavery. As the following speakers explained prior to the School Board’s vote, THAT is exactly what is going on here.

  • “My name is Bo Dickinson and I’m speaking as a private citizen on behalf of no one other than myself. I actually started my career in education over 20 years ago at Stonewall Jackson High School as an American history teacher. I realized that most students thought of Stonewall Jackson as a place and as a building as much as they thought about him as a person and this may be the case for many who remain attached to the Stonewall name. Former graduates are likely proud of their own high [Stonewall Jackson High School] accomplishments and the memories they formed at SJHS. That feeling is quite natural and partially why this debate is so emotional and difficult. However, it is also history itself that makes this difficult – very difficult. Stonewall Jackson High School was named on January 12th, 1959 – over 95 years after Stonewall Jackson’s death in 1863. So why did it take nearly a century to suddenly discover this so-called heritage in the mid 20th century? In 1959, the national news spotlight was centered on Virginia as federal courts issued the first court order to desegregate public schools. In response, Senator Harry Byrd declared massive resistance to racial integration and Governor Lindsay Alman forcibly closed schools that attempted to integrate. In fact, the very first school closed by the governor was just a few miles away from here in neighboring Warren County. And I’m actually honored to be here with some of those former students…It was precisely at this very moment that the Shenandoah County School Board chose to name its new high school after a Confederate general who fought in the defense of slavery and state’s rights. If you vote to restore the name of Stonewall Jackson in 2024, you will be resurrecting an act of 1959 that is forever rooted in Massive Resistance and Jim Crow segregation.”
  • “Good evening. My name is Gene Kilby, I’m the last surviving son of James Wilson Kilby, one of the individuals that was very instrumental in in desegregating schools in Virginia. I stand before you tonight to continue to fight the same battle that has been fought repeatedly over and over again. I stand before you tonight on the shoulders of those who came before me. I stand before you tonight on the pledge of this county that this county made in 1964 to support civil rights. I stand before you tonight on the resolution against racism adopted by the Shenandoah County School Board in June of  2020. Were these just gestures at that time or did the School Board really mean it? Why are we here tonight to go back to a time in history that was very cruel, where hatred and racism continued throughout this county and throughout the United States? My…first experience with Confederate sympathizers was in the year of 1968; I was  7 years old. They poisoned the family dog, shot through our home, mutilated our livestock and left bloody sheeps on the mailbox. Is this the type of legacy that you want to put in Shenandoah County’s Public School buildings? The Civil War was fought and lost by the Confederacy? Do you want to continue to memorialize individuals that lived in insurrection against the United States? We don’t need to go backwards; we just ask you tonight to do the right thing.”

Spoiler: the Republican-dominated Shenandoah County School Board did NOT end up doing the right thing – far from it.  Just disgraceful. By the way, do Glenn Youngkin, Jason Miyares, Todd Gilbert, etc. have any comment on any of this?!?

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