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Virginia Board Renames Schools After Slavers

White Shenandoah School Board members are naming this school after slave-owner and national traitor Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

The nation’s embrace of confederate values continued this week when a nearly all white Virginia school board voted to restore the names of Confederate military leaders and slavers to two public schools years after the names had been tossed. The Shenandoah County's school board voted 5-1 to return the name “Stonewall Jackson High School” to Mountain View High School and stick Honey Run Elementary School with the name Ashby Lee Elementary, named for Confederate cavalry officer Turner Ashby, who got his horse shot out from under him before getting plugged in the chest, possibly by one of his own team.  


The vote reversed a decision by the school board in 2020, who had removed the racist names in a show of multicultural unity. Recent elections installed a larger conservative element to the board, however, and the rollback comes as lessons on Black history and slavery are being removed from classrooms in several states, and Republican leaders are attacking and reversing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts on campuses, in businesses and in government.  


"The restoration of this name is going to set us back 70 years, and my heart breaks for the children who will have to walk in a school named after people that wanted them and their family enslaved by white men."

Speakers opposing the new board’s move, who were mostly white, flooded the meeting room prior to the vote. Bo Dickinson, a former Stonewall Jackson High School teacher, warned the board that vandalizing schools with the names of abominable racists and murderers would be “resurrecting” an act of resistance in 1959 “forever rooted in Jim Crow segregation.”  


“This school was named in 1959 over 95 years after Stonewall’s death. Why did it take nearly a century to suddenly discover this so-called heritage in the middle of the 20th century?” Dickinson demanded. “In 1959, the national news was centered on Virginia as federal courts issued the first court orders to desegregate public schools. In response Sen. Harry Byrd declared massive resistance to racial integration and Gov. Lindsay Almond closed schools that attempted to integrate. … It was precisely at this very moment that 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.” 


Speaker Hannah Keen called the vote “an absolute travesty to Shenandoah County.” 


“The restoration of this name is going to set us back 70 years, and my heart breaks for the children who will have to walk in a school named after people that wanted them and their family enslaved by white men,” Keen told the board. 


Speaker Gene Kilby, son of civil rights organizer James Wilson Kilby, who was instrumental in desegregating schools in Virginia, described his first encounter with the kind of people who named the school after confederates. 


“My first experience with confederate sympathizers was in 1958. I was seven,” Kilby said. “They poisoned the family dog, shot through our home, mutilated our livestock, and left bloody sheets on the mailbox. Is this the type of legacy you want in Shenandoah County public school buildings?  


Kilby pointed out that confederate traitors lost the Civil War, and asked the board if they really wanted to “immortalize the individuals who led an insurrection against the United States?” 


Standing with the board, however, were speakers like Virginia Rudson, who described the 2020 board that removed the confederate names as “dishonest.” A COVID denier, Rudson also accused the board of violating pandemic-related safety rules during what she called the ‘planned-demic.” 


confederate sympathizer Virginia Rudson applauded the new board for plastering the name of Confederate leaders on public school buildings.

She denied the fact that segregationists imposed the names at the height of integration to spite civil rights efforts—despite evidence—and accused the old board of secretly meeting with a handful of citizens to plan the confederate removal “while the rest of us were told to mask up, social distance and stay at home.” 


Other commenters slammed the Black Lives Matter Movement and recent campaigns to reduce police violence against African Americans. One speaker named “Gloria” claimed her daughter said teachers had to remove a “Black Lives Matter” sign from a classroom because Black and Hispanic kids were saying “white lives did not matter.” She did not offer details regarding names and dates. 


“Racism is everywhere. It’s not just whites,” she said. “… Whites are not racist, like we have been pegged that we are, just because we want a (slaver’s) name back on a school.” 


Two hours of comments failed to sway the new board. School Board member Brandi Rutz criticized the 2020 vote to remove the names of military traitors from buildings as “flawed” and argued that the local public cherished its traitors. 


Gloria Carlineo.

“The process … was done in 6 days with no prior notice,” Rutz posted on Facebook. “… FOIA requests have revealed the then board was afraid of the backlash. If they would have allowed for voices to be heard, perhaps the need to revisit would not have be (sic) needed.” 

Just before plugging the name of a slave owner onto a public school, Board member Gloria Carlineo accused critics of “bringing racism and prejudice into everything.” 


Board Vice Chairman Kyle L. Gutshall was the only “no” vote on the name change. 



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