Change the Name of Stonewall Jackson High School to Ibram X. Kendi High School

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The superintendent of Prince William County Schools recently made it a priority to rename Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, Virginia. SJHS is primarily attended by students of color; 75% of students are Black or Latino. Jackson was a slave-owner and traitor to the United States of America, leading the fight against the Union to retain the right to own slaves. His legacy should not be glorified and, in 2020, no student of color should be attending a school named in his honor.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is a graduate of Stonewall Jackson High School, a historian, an educator, an author, and one of the world’s leading antiracist scholars. Kendi was recently hired as the founding director of Boston University's Center for Antiracist Research. Prior to accepting the position, he served as executive director of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University in Washington, D.C.

His books Stamped From the Beginning and How To Be An Antiracist have spent weeks at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list, and have greatly contributed to shaping the country’s current conversation surrounding race and racism. His research and voice have had and continue to have a dramatic impact on how we are re-examining our history and equity, and how that should be addressed in schools.

In changing the name of Stonewall Jackson High School to honor a graduate of the school who is actively fighting this country’s legacy of systemic racism and inequity, PWCS would demonstrate how far our county has come and how willing we are to continue that growth. Instead of attending a school named for a man who fought to keep their ancestors enslaved, students would be attending a school that honors the journey towards racial equality and a former SJHS student who is making that journey possible. 

We the undersigned believe that:

Confederate generals like Stonewall Jackson have no place in our education system beyond a history lesson and should not be honored or memorialized on school property.
A school that is meant to educate Black students cannot be named after someone who fought to keep Black people enslaved.
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi has the local ties, the stature, and the background to justify the school being named in his honor. He is someone that current students can look to for inspiration and direction.

 

In order to create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students in Prince William County, we need to make sure our schools honor people who demonstrate the values that PWCS has a duty to uphold.