Rename Walton High School, Break the Cycle of White Supremacy

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Walton High School is one of the most prestigious academic institutions in our state. The school prides itself on its academic excellence, creating an image of sophistication and academic prowess well known in not only our region, but the entire state. Walton High School carries itself in excellence in every sense of the name, but what about ITS name?

Walton High School is named after George Walton, one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence. For many in history class, that’s where the conversation stops. No one ever talks about how George Walton was a white supremacist, belonged to a slave owning family, and spent his political career championing white supremacy in Georgia by stripping Native Americans time and time again of their land. For a school well known on the national stage, it is sickening that they choose to carry themselves using a man who represents one thing: continuing white supremacy in the American South.

It is no surprise that Walton High School specifically chooses to exonerate a figure who oppressed minorities his entire life, as the same behaviors that the school is named after are behaviors that plague the halls of that school to this day. It is no coincidence that Walton High School is only 6% black, significantly lower than the county average of 30.2% and the state average of 36.3%. Walton has always been districted to block minority students and especially black students from enrolling in a sizable number, acting as a beacon of white supremacy in a majority minority school district. The mistreatment does not stop there. As a black student at Walton High School, every day that I am on campus I feel hate and oppression from the student body and the administration. I am constantly gaslighted and singled out for my experiences as a person of color, made fun of or the subject of jokes based on the color of my skin. This year, Walton made the news when a white student followed a black student around the school making whipping noises on their cell phone. I couldn’t even say I was surprised, just because that behavior is so normalized at Walton. I wouldn’t wish that mistreatment on anyone, and I certainly won’t stand for it in my community.

It is also no coincidence that Walton’s mascot is a “raider” a figure that is held up and celebrated as a heroic figure for pillaging and stealing from others, just as white supremacy has done towards rights of the black community in this state for hundreds of years.

With Georgia being home to so many champions of equality such as MLK, Jimmy Carter, Ray Charles, Jackie Robinson, and so many others, it seems like a slap in the face and a deliberate attack on the black and indigenous people of color community to go to a high school that is named after such a detestable man. The year is 2020, people are fighting in the streets to make sure black lives matter, the least I can do is correct the injustice I see in my own community. We can do better. Walton, you can do better.